Some years ago (I want to say three?), two noblemen lied at a ball and claimed to have slept with Miss Thea Knight. She was humiliated and scandalised and both family and high society rejected her. She’s been living lonely in the country under an assumed name as a ladies’ companion. Now she’s pretending to be her younger sister at a house party, so said sister can run away to Gretna Green and marry her true love. She also plans to publish a pamphlet with the true story behind her supposed ruin, and hopefully restore her reputation. She just needs to figure out how to get enough money to pay for the pamphlet’s publication.
Rafe Landcross, the reclusive Earl of Luxborough, is believed to have murdered his first wife. He also has unsightly facial scars after having been attacked by a jungle cat during an expedition in the Americas. Due to a provision in his mother’s will, he needs to get married to claim a large sum of money, but he also doesn’t actually want another wife. He learns about Thea Knight and her sister’s deception and figures that marrying Thea, who is using a false name, is the perfect plan. If he pretends to believe that she is, in fact, her sister and they get married, he can later have the marriage annulled once he has the inheritance in hand. Thea, on her part, intends to spend as much of her new husband’s money to buy items she can easily resell, and then leave him.
So Thea (under her false name) marries Rafe, and goes with him to his big and somewhat spooky estate. Gruff and introverted Rafe tries not to be charmed by Thea’s optimistic nature and natural charm, while she refuses to be scared off by his terrifying appearance or dark reputation. Of course they start falling for one another and both of their schemes are complicated. They come to realise that they share a common foe, however, and might do well to unite to defeat him.
Full review on my blog.