In a moment of recklessness, Gervase Tregarth, 6th Earl of Crowhurst, swears he'll marry the next eligible lady to cross his path. Cloistered at his ancestral castle in Cornwall, with nary a suitable woman for miles, he never expects he'll have to fulfill his pledge, at least not until the London Season begins. But then he meets his neighbor, the very appealing Madeline Gascoigne.
Years of secret service to the Crown have taught Gervase the value of always having a loophole—there will be no wedding if he and Madeline are incompatible in any way. So he sets out to prove that they would make a most dreadful match . . . by luring her into his arms and, ultimately, his bed.
From their very first kiss, Gervase discovers that the headstrong and independent Madeline is no meek country miss . . . and that the fire between them will burn long beyond that first seduction.
After six unsuccessful months of wife-hunting in London, Gervase Tregarth, earl of Crowhurst and the second-to-last unattached member of the Bastion Club (last seen in series prequel Captain Jack's Woman), reluctantly agrees to the requests of his three mischievous younger sisters, who would rather their brother find a local lady they can vet and approve. He doesn't have to look far before he finds Madeline Gascoigne, acting regent of nearby Treleaver Park, a now-independent woman he's lost touch with over his years abroad. Gervase decides to satisfy his end of the deal by pursuing Madeline, but only "enough to make his declaration of incompatibility credible." However, it's harder to win some time with the disciplined woman than Gervase foresees, and soon a cast of supporting characters (including Madeline's three younger brothers) are scheming to get the couple together. Complicating matters are the continuing machinations of Malcolm Sinclair and a nameless villain who believes Madeline's brothers know where to find a missing treasure. Though it's a reliable serving of rogues and romance, Laurens's latest feels like less of the same; reliant on too many stock plots and situations-not to mention Laurens's endlessly spiraling euphemisms-it's ultimately too safe to satisfy.