Married to the Viscount by Sabrina Jeffries
Abigail Mercer first meets Spencer Law, Viscount Ravenswood, when he accompanies his brother to America to investigate the possibility of buying her father's medicine company. The two hit it off but Spence heads home anyway, only to be surprised when Abby shows up at his doorstep, during his brother's engagement party, claiming to be his wife. Nathaniel, Spencer's brother, had tricked Abby into believing Spencer wanted to marry her, and then acting as a proxy for the wedding. He then absconded with her dowry and disappeared after Abby showed up; but not before paying her way to England since she had no money after her father died. Spencer is angry but to avoid a scandal he reaches an agreement with Abby that she will stay and pretend to be his wife until they are able to locate Nat, return her dowry, and then send her back to America where the marriage can be dissolved quietly.
Of course Spencer's well layed plans go awry when he has immense trouble battling his attraction to Abby, whose mother was the daughter of a Seneca chieftan. Spencer insists that he plans to never marry because of his commitment to his job as undersecretary to the Home Secretary of England, but Abby is convinced that the truth is that he believes hse isn't good enough to be a proper English wife for him. Added to this is a gossiping journalist who offers Abby a business deal to sell her father's "medicine" as perfume, which infuriates Spencer who fears it will give Abyy a means to leave. Spencer realies that he cannot live without Abby but he has promised never to marry for reasons which are not revealed until the middle of the middle of the book but does come as quite the surprise. When Nat is finally found, and his motives revealed further awkwardness ensues between Abby and Spencer until both of them are finally willing to accept each other- issues and all.
Abby and Spencer are so much fun- and together they create a whole lot of wonderful angst. He's worried that she will find out his secret and will leave him, he's angsty and upset when she tries to change herself into the perfect English miss and loses her freeness and "American-ness" that made him fall in love with her, and he's angsty when he worries that she will make enough money on her own that she can leave him. She's angsty because she believes he thinks she's not good enough for him, she's angsty that he doesn't trust her to stay with himj after his secret is revealed, and then she's angsty that he doesn't love her enough to change some of his misguided assumptions. And Jeffries does a very good job of delving into these characters motivations and gives a nearly equal time to both of their inner-thoughts (it is a romance novel though so we do get more from Abby obviously).
There is plenty of steam between these two- they spend much of the book fighting off their attraction to each other, but unsurprisingly they they do give in on quite a few occassions. Our heroine grew up with some of her mother's Seneca ideas on love-making so she's not quite the timid miss- although she is an untutored virgin (duh)- and she certainly enjoys "playing" with Spencer. Negative reviews on amazon- there are a few surprisingly- seemed to be concerned with the fact that this was a romance novel. I am not kidding- they called it boring and not what they expected from historical fiction- so a word of warning- This is a romance novel. There is not an extra plot about spying or a national monarch and his mistress- just a story about two people finding love. The complaint that the characters were wooden and too concerned with the issues in their love is completely false as well. The characters were well developed and the issues they were facing did warrant all that (wonderful) angsty.
Rating: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if it wasn't a library book would definitely be on the very small "keep forever" and re-read (the good parts) over and over.