Rebecca Marshall is very excited when her mother secures her a position as a maid of honor to the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria. However, she is not prepared for the secrecy and intrigue that goes on at the court. From a roommate who very obviously wants all competition out of the way to Lady Sarah, who wants all the ladies in the castle to spy and run secret errands for her. On her first mission for Sarah, Rebecca is sent to the room of Nigel Jennings who runs his own spy ring, she is caught by Rupert St. John. Rupert has been enlisted by Nigel to get the scoop on all of the new maid of honors and while he has dismissed all of them as possible threats, Rebecca is harder to dismiss. He is quickly convinced that she is a spy for Sarah and a master manipulator and liar. When Nigel enlists her help right before leaving the country, she decides to use Rupert as a go between, but since he is still convinced she is the traitor, he does not believe her.
This does not stop him from being attracted to her and he wastes no time divesting her of her virginity. Rebecca is horrified that she has ruined herself with a man who believes her a liar and has not a kind word to say to her, but when she turns up pregnant, she knows she must tell him. He does not believeher a bit, but he decides to marry her on the off chance she is telling the truth, and then annul the marriage when the truth becomes obvious. However, she has not desire to make things easier for him and as the two become engaged in a verbal battle of anger and resentment, she can't help but have feelings for him. It takes one night where Rebecca realizes that she will never win her husbands love or his trust and she cannot stand that since she loves him. And of course this same night Rubert is confronted with the evidence he has been wrong about her from the beginning so he finally admits his feelings and goes to win his wife for real this time.
Wow- these two certainly spent a great deal of time arguing, heartily disliking each other, and being incredibly angry. At many moments he was downright rude to her. They tried to explain this away because he was soooo convinced she was a threat, but I could never really figure out what he thought she was actually doing, and even after Nigel had explained that she was on their side, he continued to distrust her. It really just seemed like he was obsessed with her being a spy and was just too ignorant or stubborn to get it through his skull that he was wrong even when it was hitting him upside the head. The book did try to placate by throwing in some brief moments of kindness, like when he brought her bland food or a bucket to puke in, but it did not go anywhere near far enough to make up for his behavior. I could not for the life of me understand how or why she couldn't help these feelings she supposedly had for him. I also was annoyed by how everything amused him and he was constantly "teasing" everyone.
What makes his behavior and her falling in love even worse is that she comes across as otherwise fairly level headed, mature, and intelligent. She handles complicated situations with the roommate with aplomb and even with Lady Sarah, but when it comes to a beautiful man who treats her horribly, she loses her head. And not a good sort of losing her cool either, more like she was so blown away by his good looks that she could not see past them to his behavior. Sadly enough the most interesting part of this book was when they went to France to gather evidence of a real traitor and it brought up some issues because this man had a loving family and several children. But this was touched on not at all in the book and when it reappears at the end it is completely out of the blue. There were some issues with his mother being "manly" after his father died that was also completely weird. However, the book was fairly fast to read.
Rating: Too many issues with their interactions with each other for me to really like it, but it was not horrible and I did like how fast it went. 1 1/2 rounded up.