Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, decides that he wants to marry Isabel, Lady Pelham, to make his mother angry. She thwarted his attempts to marry the woman he loves so he decides that marrying the notorious widow who takes her own lovers, is the perfect way to make her angry. They agree to a marriage of friendship and laughter, but when his love dies giving birth, he runs away and spends the next four years reflecting on his life. When he comes back to London he is much changed; he is physically much more attractive and dangerous, and he has given up many of his selfish ways. Most importantly he has decided that he wants a real marriage with Isabel with plenty of sex. Isabel is not at all pleased with this turn of events, but despite the fact that she already has a lover, she cannot seem to keep from wanting this much more muscular husband of hers.
Isabela hopes that she can control her marriage with Gray and does not want to feel any passion for him as her first marriage was ruined when she fell passionately in love and he did not return those feelings. He is working hard to seduce Isabela into falling in love with her through lots and lots of very hard sex. But there are many people who do not want to see these two happy from their former lovers to Gray's own family members. Gray's mom is especially dedicated to driving them apart and uses all her power to try to convince Isabela that her marriage to Gray will turn out exactly like her first one. Gray knows the best way to make Isabela fall in love with him is to spend more and more time with him, but ex-lovers consistently get in the way. Finally, during a house party, Gray's mother hits just the right nerve that could make Isabela run away forever, if Gray cannot lay everything on the line and claim her heart.
I did not have any problem whatsoever with Isabela having had past lovers as they were monogamous relationships and she did genuinely care about these people. Gray's encounteres were not like this, however he underwent some very well written changes throughout the story. Some of my favorite moments were when Isabela was reflecting on her marriage or when Gray was coming to another realization about how selfish he had been. They were genuinely amazing moments that really showed these characters had tremendous insight and were really dedicated to fixing the mistakes they had made. I do wish they had had a frank and honest discussion about these feelings as it would have really added a nice something to this story. I also really enjoyed the two of them finally coming to fall in love with each other- especially when Grayson realized he was willing to do anything to win over Isabela. Unfortunately there were far too few of these great little moments.
This is definitely an erotic romance as there is lots of sex, perhaps gratuitous amounts of sex, and it is not at all flowery. However, large amounts of sex don't bother me; what bothered me was that the sex just did not really work in the story. It felt almost violent and not in the "I have to have you!" way, but more like they were angry with each other, and there were plenty of times they were, and it always felt rushed and like two automatons going at it. It was definitely not what I would consider hot at all and I really just wanted to skip over most of it. There was a really fun little side romance between Isabela's brother and a rich American heiress that took up quite a bit of room and ended rather predictably with each of them fearing the other didn't love them. Gray's mother was awesome as the super villain who wanted to tear everyone apart and she worked very well in the story.
Rating: This story had some great potential with two characters undergoing so many great changes but the emotionless and lacking sex taking up so many pages brought it down.