Leo Harrow, the Earl of Barrington, attends the funeral of Lord Fallon to offer moral support to the Duke's widow, his very close friend Jezebel. Fallon was a bastard who left Jez with nothing and she decides to ruin the chances of her deceased husband's heir by scaring off the woman he hopes to make his bride. Leo and his friends, Tristan and Hayden, agree to woo Lady Charlotte Lynsay, the Earl of Ponsley's daughter, until she throws over Mr. Warren. Genevieve Camden is well on the shelf and to earn her keep she agrees to act as chaperone to her young cousin and encourage a match between Charlotte and Mr. Warren. She is unprepared to run into Leo, with whom she shares a scandalous past. Years ago the two had engaged in a torrid affair at a house party and while both had developed deeper feelings for the other, neither had been brave enough to speak their minds or ask for anything more than an affair and so they had parted ways. Now that Leo is threatening her cousin's future, and by extension her own livelihood as her uncle will throw her out if Charlotte doesn't marry Warren, Genevieve finds herself in closer proximity to Leo than she had ever hoped to be again.
Leo finds Genevieve as beautiful and enticing as always and regrets the promise he made to help Jez. He can't help but remember all the times they shared together and when both of them are invited back to the same house party where they found each other all those years ago, it brings back memories and long forgotten desires for both of them. Genevieve knows that what she's doing is dangerous, knows that she is risking her entire future and that of her cousin, and knows that she is once again throwing her heart at a man who has already broken it once. Leo is just as confused as Genevieve, unsure of what she expects from the relationship and unsure what he wants from it, but he knows he cannot let this opportunity pass him by again. Sure enough, when Lord Ponsley discovers what has been transpiring, he kicks Genevieve out and she finds herself at the mercy of friends. Leo is determined to show her that it is possible for them to have a future together and rushes to find a way to make up for the past hurts they have endured. Genevieve must move beyond their past and forgive his mistakes and her own in order for them to have a happily ever after.
I initially like the premises that Leo and Genevieve had had a relationship that ended poorly and were going to have to work past what had happened and forge a new relationship from the beginning. The major flaw in this was the way in which their initial relationship ended and how it colored their entire reconciliation. Supposedly the relationship had ended after the house party because neither knew what the other wanted from the relationship and while this makes sense for her, it made no sense on his part. She was a young debutante, with every hope of making a successful match, who gave him her virginity. It makes no sense that he did not know that she wanted marriage and family, so his excuse that he didn't know what she expected rang incredibly hollow. Genevieve was a very confusing character because she tried to seem strong and purposeful, but she gave in to Leo so easily even when she knew that it could cost her everything. I wanted her to grow a backbone when it came to him and stand up for herself and his continuing to take advantage of her, even when knowing what the risk to her was, made him rather unlikable.
Their relationship was full of sparring and characterized by a lack of happiness and fun as he was always anxious she would find out about his deal with Lady Jez and she was worried she would lose her position with her uncle. There was a decent amount of sex and at times it did get pretty hot, but it was nothing spectacular, especially since it seemed to be the only time they enjoyed being in each other's company. I understood Lady Jezebel's unhappiness, her husband was obviously an ass of epic proportions, but I could not understood what this desire to ruin Mr. Warren's happiness came from. This plot waffled back and forth from revenge (against whom I don't know) to trying to keep Charlotte from getting hurt (although there was never any evidence she would get hurt) to I don't even know what. It seemed to be just thrown in their for no reason except to throw up a road block between Genevieve and Leo at the very end. Even then it was just ridiculous as Leo really hadn't attempted to fulfill his promise so Genevieve's anger was just frustrating.
Rating: Two difficult to like characters in an unhappy relationship with a past that made me frustrating a side plot that was ridiculous.