On her wedding night Claire Lyons was scared of what would occur between her and her new husband, Morgan the Earl of Westcliffe, and accepted her friend Stephen's, Westcliffe's younger brother, to help. To postpone the wedding night Stephen crawls into bed with Claire but nothing goes as planned as Westcliffe is furious and takes Claire to his family estate and leaves her there for three years. Claire is lonely but tries to make the best of things but she regrets her foolish actions and wants to make a life with her husband even though the stories about her husband's sexual escapades haunt her. When her father threatens to marry her younger sister off to an old lecher she goes to London both to fix her marriage and to provide Beth with the choice that she never had. Westcliffe has tried for years to get Claire out of his mind but he has been very unsuccessful so when she shows up at his door he knows things will get complicated.
He comes to understand that Claire had been young and naive and scared on her wedding and while he cannot forgive her he can see from her point of view. Suddenly his house has the laughter and homey feeling that he had expected when he first married her and he relishes the changes she is making in his life. But he is not sure he can forgive her and has made plans to marry another woman after obtaining a divorce at the end of the season. He is determined that he will not touch her but with Claire's innocent seduction and the light she brings to his life it is not long before their relationship progresses. But Anne is not happy to have lost Westcliffe and makes it clear that she does not accept his now happy marriage. Just when things seem perfect for Westcliffe and Claire, Stephen returns and throws a wrench in things and Westcliffe will have to trust that his and Claire's love can see them through everything.
Claire was an amazing heroine as she had the light and laughter that they need to have but she was also flawed and she recognized this and could reflect on how to make herself better. She wanted her marriage to work and she actively went after it and made the most and the best out of a bad situation. And man Westcliffe was simply superb and a very strong leading man. He had the demons in his past with his mother not loving him and feeling insecure, but he was so obviously just in need of a lot of love from a great woman. Their is plenty of sex between them and some nice lead up to and while it is fairly hot it wasn't exactly spectacular. Her sister Beth was a great comparison for how young Claire had been on her wedding and how she could have made those mistakes and I can't wait to see if she matures in later books. His family members also played a very big role and will continue to do so in upcoming novels.
I am a sucker for romances where there's such a big rift and the whiff of betrayal because it just leads to some wonderfully emotional scenes that I absolutely love. This book had that in abundance as Westcliffe worked to forgive Claire for her supposed betrayal and came to understand that he played a part in what happened and really both of them were to blame. I really loved reading about his coming to understand this and him finding all the things that were missing in life, laughter and happiness and acceptance, in Claire. However there were also betrayal issues on Westcliffe's part, such as him philandering all over the place and then the threat of divorce, and I felt like this was not dealt with adequately at all. I do not want to give spoilers but this book really called for him to make a VERY big grand gesture, and while he
made a gesture, I definitely felt like it was far from enough and the end just came too abruptly.
Rating: A great love story of two people working together to restore a love that was almost lost, but I felt like it needed more of a big ending to make it all right.