Lady Boudicea "Beau" Vaugn has secretly wanted her brother, Leo's, best friend, Gareth Sandison, for years even while he has man-whored his way through half the women in the ton. Gareth has wanted Beau as well but she is Leo's little sister and he is far beneath her notice as the second son who is not destined to inherit anything. But Beau has a habit of getting into scrapes and when she is once again kidnapped by a rake who appears to want to marry her, her narrow escape threatens to ruin her reputation unless someone can save her. Gareth happens to be passing by and she clings to him as her savior, but both are concerned that they are taking advantage of the other for their own gain in finally getting the person they have longed for. Beau's family is horrified at this turn of events, believing that Gareth took advantage of her and Leo wastes no time in turning against Gareth and making sure that all their friends in the League of Second Sons refuse to have anything to do with him. Nevertheless both Beau and Gareth are determined to make the best of things as they head up to his secluded estate.
Their marriage gets off to a wonderful start as the two explore every wonder that the bedchamber offers and make plans to fix up the dilapidated house and woo the local stray dog into becoming a house pet. But when Gareth's older brother, Souttar, shows up with a little boy who is apparently Souttar's son from a secret marriage, Gareth is forced to pretend the child is his in order to avoid the scandal. Beau is distraught and upset with Gareth but that does not prevent her from falling in love with the boy, Jamie, and quickly developing a strong bond with him. Gareth suddenly finds himself on the outs with his wife for a crime he didn't commit and he desperately wants back into her good graces and he sets about wooing his wife, making nice with his "son," and trying to prove to her that he did not marry her out of necessity, but because he wanted her. When the people who tried to kidnap Beau before resurface it becomes clear that there is a very dark and sinister plot to ruin her and perhaps more and they must work together with their friends to save those they love and show how much they love each other.
Beau was kind of hard to get a handle on because she was strong and confident but she also was a bit naive when it came to men and her ability to hold her own against men who were after her for her money was too much to believe in a woman of that era. I did enjoy that she was comfortable with herself and had a good relationship with her family without allowing them to run roughshod all over her and that they obviously loved her. Gareth did not differ too much from a typical romance hero, which is not a bad thing in my opinion because there is a reason that type of male is the norm, except for his extreme dedication to his family. At times that dedication became irritating and I wanted to slap him, but it was also admirable and made sense because of who he was and made him seem both honorable and slightly ridiculous. I always like novels where characters have admired each other from afar because it adds a bit of extra angst and longing to the story, however, as usual, it also meant that I felt like I was missing part of the story behind them even though Carr did do a very good job providing backstory for them.
Their relationship progressed very well throughout the novel as they both worried that they were taking advantage of the other and that their feelings were not returned. They were obviously getting to know each other in a completely different way than they had previously known each other and I really liked reading that story. They had their ups and downs and they were so obviously happy together and worked well as a couple. The longing led to some great pent up lust that certainly exploded on the page; the sex was quite hot and really added to the story in my opinion even if there was one scene where he tried to use sex to control her. The added bonus of the child and protecting his family did add to the story because it gave them something more between them and showed off their true characters, but it was also a little worrying because I'm not a fan of men who have hidden children from their wives- even if it's not really his. The book moved incredibly fast and her writing style is fun and easy to read and Carr sets up the next book in the story really well without throwing her previous characters in our face.
Rating: A very fun book with two characters who had such a great relationship together, in bed and out, and a little extra problem thrown in.