The widowed Lady Rebecca Fisk has vowed never to get married again but that does not mean she has given up on men entirely. Her deceased husband William had been after her only for her money and it has left her very wary of ever trusting a man again. She finds herself immensely attracted to Jack Fulton and after a few evenings spent in each other's company in public she agrees to a private meeting at a hotel. Jack likes Rebecca and does not want to use her but he is being blackmailed by an old friend and the only way he can think of to get that large amount of money is to marry. He arranges for Rebecca's brother, Garrett, and other members of the ton to walk in on them at an opportune time. Sure enough they are discovered and everyone agrees that they must get married, but Rebecca is reluctant to enter into such a permanent arrangement without getting to know Jack better.
Jack knows he is running out of time but he realizes that Rebecca is something special and he wants her and no other so he agrees to give her the extra time he needs. Jack begins to court Rebecca by giving her odd items from his travels around the world and it is exactly what Rebecca would want as she is a bluestocking who loves gaining new knowledge. Slowly she begins to warm to him even as Jack's blackmailer is urging him to move faster and move on to another. Jack calls on Rebecca and when they manage to get some alone time she knows that she can trust Jack and she agrees to marry him. But when she finds out that he has ulterior motives for originally courting her, she is devastated and runs off to make a life for herself on her own. Jack has come to know that he cannot live without Rebecca and he goes after to her to prove that he wants her for everything she is and not for her money.
Jennifer Haymore has been a little bit of a mystery for me when it comes to ratings as I loved her first novel but was severely disappointed by her second. I have been very much looking forward to this book and it would have been difficult to live up to expectations and hopes so I kept that in mind while reading it. I really liked that this novel tackled head on, indeed made the focus of the book, something that I am often annoyed with in romance novels; characters who don't really know each other and yet manage to fall in love. Rebecca's insistence on getting to know Jack before she married him struck me as very intelligent and completely in character given her past with marriage. And his courting of her by sending her those very important trinkets was genius as it proved that he did know her and that he understood how he could make her happy and that he wanted to do so.
The plot involving the blackmail was really well done with the villain being multi-faceted and dislikable, but not quite hateable. The incident Jack was being blackmailed with was genuinely awful and warranted his actions and it made it so much greater that he was willing to give up her money and risk so much. I also liked that things did not turn out completely okay, there was a happily ever after obviously, but he does have to suffer the consequences of some of his actions and Rebecca has to make sacrifices to spend her life with the man she loves. There was quite a few appearances from characters from her previous books and while I appreciated her brother being so protective and pushing them together, I was a little irritated with how friendly and perfect her relationship was with her brother's wife. I just do get a little irked when everyone is so perfectly happy with their family and just so buddy buddy.
Rating: I enjoyed this book and the way the characters interacted but I was never 100% engrossed and drawn in by it.