Lady Pandora Ravenel, one of the late Earl of Trenear’s twin daughters is suffering through her first season. Normally she spends her times at balls sitting with the wallflowers, having invented some convoluted excuse for her inability to dance that evening. When a newly married friend of hers asks for her help to retrieve a lost earring, Pandora braves her fear of the dark to go out to the deserted pavilion, searching for the earring and getting herself soundly stuck in an elaborate piece of furniture for her troubles. The dashing and handsome and very unmarried Lord Gabriel St. Vincent comes along to help her, but once he’s got her untangled from the settee, Pandora’s dress and coiffure is rather worse for wear and they are caught in what appears to be a very compromising position.
Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, is the son and heir of the Duke and Duchess of Kingston (Kleypas fan favourites Sebastian and Evie from Devil in Winter) and has been raised to do the right thing, even though he had no intention of marrying any time soon and has skilfully evaded both fortune hunting young misses and match-making mamas for years. He goes to Devon Ravenel, the current Earl of Trenear to ask for Pandora’s hand in marriage. Devon is Pandora’s cousin, having become her guardian and inheriting the title when Pandora’s elder brother Theo was thrown from a spirited horse. At Pandora’s fervent protests, he assures her that she won’t have to marry Lord St. Vincent unless she is absolutely certain that is what she wants, no matter what scandal might result from her remaining unmarried. Pandora is worried what her refusal and the possible ensuing gossip will do to the marriage chances of her twin Cassandra, who seems to enjoy the flirting, gossiping, dancing and elaborate dresses of her first season, while agreeing with her sister that society’s rules and expectations are very silly. Devon claims they’ve managed before, and will again.
Having heard of the situation their heir has gotten himself into, Sebastian’s parents suggest inviting all the Ravenels to their country estate for a week, so Gabriel and Pandora can spend some time together away from society’s wagging tongues and prying eyes, while the families get to know each other better. While initially, Gabriel is rather taken aback by Pandora’s odd manners and forthright and impulsive way of speaking her mind at all times, grows more intrigued and attracted to her with every passing encounter. He wonders at her strenuous conviction against ever marrying, and soon wants nothing more but to persuade her to become his wife.
Full review here.