One evening, when Lady Emma Avery, popularly known in the ton as “London’s Least Likely to Misbehave” is getting drunk with her two best friends (who are also wallflowers who will be meeting their intended husbands in later books). While she isn’t noticed by most of polite society, Emma does have a young man whom she dreams of a future with, but after three years, he’s still not shown any signs of proposing to her. Her friends joke about how she might get more attention if she announced her betrothal to the most eligible bachelor in town, the Duke of Ashbrooke, and even pen a fake announcement.
Emma is appalled when she realises the fake announcement has been printed and everyone suddenly thinks she’s snagged the Duke of Ashbrooke without anyone even noticing. Ashbrooke himself is rather amused to find he’s engaged to a woman he’s never met, but considering his business ventures are currently suffering because of his reputation as a rake and a libertine, being romantically linked with one of the most proper and respectable misses in London can only count in his favour. He also has an eccentric old aunt who every year forces all her relatives to compete in a series of random and unpredictable trials at her country seat. The winner becomes the heir to her fantabulous fortune for until the next trials are completed. Ashbrooke has never won, but very much needs the money to finance his new inventions and believes that bringing Lady Emma along may improve his chances. He therefore convinces Emma to agree to pose as his fiancee, promising to split the fortune with her if they win this year’s trials. As Emma doesn’t really have any dowry to speak of, and believes that may be why her reluctant suitor is still undeclared, the promise of a massive fortune (as well as the chance to spend some time with the ridiculously attractive Ashbrooke) gets her to agree.
Ashbrooke is used to any woman falling for him within minutes and turns on all of his considerable charm to win Emma over. She keeps her beloved Benedict firmly in her mind and while she’s melting on the inside, refuses to show Ashbrooke how he affects her. Naturally this just makes him more determined to seduce her. As they are forced to fake their infatuation, spend copious amounts of time together and even write fake love letters to one another to support the story of their secret whirlwind love affair, Emma’s feelings for Ashbrooke grow stronger, while she’s also worried that the minute she succumbs to him, he’ll get bored and dump her.
The inimitable, Mrs.Julien, my partner in romance reviewing, posted her review of this back in February.
The rest of my review can be found here.