Catherine Marks has been hiding out as companion and governess to the Hathaways doing her best to control their behavior and avoid Leo, Viscount Ramsey. Everytime Catherine and Leo are in the same room they end up arguing about anything and everything. When Leo discovers that Catherine has been dying her hair to make herself less attractive and is his brother-in-law Harry's half-sister. He has this crazy desire to know everything about her, discover all her secrets, and he can't seem to keep from imagining her naked. The entire family gets in on the action and uses every possible excuse to throw them together and it isn't long that Leo realizes Catherine is far more than a governess. She rescues him when he falls through a roof and gets a large splinter lodged in his arm and that night she sneaks into his room, where he can't stop himself from grabbing hold of her and kissing her senseless.
When someone from her past shows up, Catherine is forced to divulge the truth about her past: she had lived with her aunt in a brothel and she had been sold to the highest bidder, before Harry had rescued her. Meanwhile is is discovered that the house the Hathaway's live in actually belongs to someone else unless Leo can marry and sire an heir within the next year. The more he gets to know Catherine the more he thinks she will be the perfect wife for him, but she is terrified that the truth about her past will get out and she, and the rest of the Hathaways, will be spurned by society. Leo wants Catherine desperately and he realizes that being married to her could be the solution to both their problems and it doesn't hurt that his verbal sparing with her will keep him on his toes. But neither realizes that Catherine's aunt has been angry at her for leaving for years and when Leo is forced to rescue her they both confront their feelings and decide that maybe arguments could be good for a happily ever after.
I was completely looking forward to this book after reading Tempt Me at Twilight and reading a little bit of Catherine and Leo together. This kind of harkened back to romances I used to read when arguing served as a source of foreplay for the characters and they both enjoyed it. However, I do not enjoy it so much. Luckily, the book did have some nice moments between them when they really showed how much they cared for the other. So often I complain about author's who throw all of their past characters into a book and have them be all lovey and perfect. I feel like they're trying to make me buy the other books and that they're just hitting me over the head with how great they write characters who can end up happily ever after. I don't know how or why but when Kleypas does it, I enjoy revisiting past characters and reading about them interacting with the new hero and heroines.
The sex between Harry and Catherine was nice and steamy, not crazy hot or anything, but there was definitely a hint of submission on her part that the book addressed very well. I also liked that there were not any demons that Leo had to deal with as it would have just been a little too much as she had plenty of her own. I completely loved that she shared her fears about the man who had paid for her and starts to harass and threaten her with Harry and Leo. Too often heroines think they're over-reacting or that they can handle it themselves and it was nice to see her take advantage of the fact that she had people who cared for her and would do anything to help her. This went hand in hand with Kleypas writing two exciting and intertwined side plots involving the bad guy and her bitter aunt. They were great because they directly involved her and her past and worked within the story, did not overwhelm the story, and took up an appropriate amount of page space.
Rating: I would probably give this 3 1/2 hearts because I enjoyed it more than adequately but I know that Kleypas can do so much better and so much more exciting.