Helena Wheatley's father desperately wants her to marry a titled gentleman as he feels her rightful place is in the ton. Luckily he has plenty of money to lure a penniless lord, but so far all he's turned up are duds. Richard Standish, the Earl of Markfield, is one such penniless lord and he hopes that one day he can restore his family fortune's and bring back the legendary stud farm his family had once run. He calls on Helena, but stops short of signing the agreement her father presents because he feels his word should be good enough. He agrees to escort Helena around town to placate her father and so that word will spread that he is expecting an influx of money. Immediately the two feel as though they are each bungling all of their encounters with the other, and blame all the missteps in their relationship on the themselves. This goes hand in hand with their growing attraction for each other.
Richard is especially worried about the family doctor who obviously have feelings for her and he grows envious when he notices that every other man seems to have no trouble calling forth her brilliant smile. And Helena herself is worried when Richard's ex-mistress continually shows up at inopportune times. They each grow more and more worried that their feelings for the other are not returned, but when they are got alone together, they have no choice but to get married. Things do not get off to the best start as Helena is still worried that Richard has feeling's for his ex-mistress while Richard will do anything to keep from thinking about money and the fact that people think he married her for cash. But there is someone out there who wants to hurt Richard and so at the end Richard and Helena need to discover his identity and put a stop to his plans to separate them before they can truly make a marriage for themselves.
I really liked the plot of the book as it seemed as though it should be easily palatable, however I had a remarkably difficult time really getting into the story. It was certainly very wordy and sometimes it seemed as though the author went out of her way to use unrealistic language and words she found in the thesaurus. I felt as though there was not enough dialogue which contributed greatly to the slow going. I did like the jealousies and angst that accompanied them each believing they were messing up the relationship and the other didn't want them and that went along with them believing someone else might be the object of the other's affection. However, I had to admit it got a little annoying after awhile and there were some scenes where I just wanted them each to talk (dialogue!), or even yell, at the other about what they were thinking.
Helena and Richard worked well together overall and it was obvious from the beginning that both of them wanted something out of their relationship. I wish there had been some more scenes between them where they were both on the same page because the ones it did have were quite nice to read. I was incredibly disappointed that there was absolutely no sex in this book; a few rather tame kissing scenes and that was it. This was especially bad because she was so nervous about it and since it seemed like nothing else in their marriage worked, it would have been a nice little saver. I was also disappointed in the whole "someone is out to murder Richard" plot as it came completely out of the blue at the end and I was like, "huh?" Lastly I was annoyed by the tack the book came when dealing with ex-soldiers who couldn't find jobs. The people who went home and tried to get decent wages for themselves were "trouble-makers" and the ones who stayed in London, smiled, and blamed themselves for the trouble were noble. Gag me!
Rating: I did want to like it, but it was boring, there was no sex and far too little dialogue, and the murder plot was just ridiculous. Prob 1 1/2 hearts.