Lady Henrietta Maclellan longs for the romantic swirl of a London season. But as a rusticating country maiden, she has always kept her sensuous nature firmly under wraps - until she meets Simon Darby. Simon makes her want to whisper promises late at night, exchange kisses on a balcony and receive illicit love notes. So Henrietta lets her imagination soar and writes a letter . . . a very steamy love letter that somehow becomes shockingly public.
Everyone supposes that he has written the letter to her, but the truth hardly matters in the face of the scandal to come if they don't marry at once. But nothing has quite prepared Henrietta for the pure sensuality of Simon, who has vowed he will never turn himself into a fool over a woman. So, while debutantes swoon as he disdainfully strides past the lovely ladies of the ton, he ignores them all . . . until Henrietta. Could it be possible that he has been the foolish one all along?
Eschewing the formulas and character types found in many romances, this pert Regency pairs a dandified urbanite and a disabled heiress, which makes for some frank, funny exchanges. No one could accuse the lace-loving Simon Darby of being an alpha male clich . His penchant for modish clothing and fine filigree has led Londoners to label him an "exquisite," but his dashing good looks don't impress Lady Henrietta Maclellan... much. A beauty with a slight limp and a refreshingly forthright manner, Henrietta longs for marriage and children, but believes her weak hip precludes her from both. When she meets Simon and the two youngsters under his care, however, Henrietta vows to seize what she wants even if it means stirring up a scandal. Her partner in crime is the lovably flawed Esme Rawlings, who appears in James's previous book, Duchess in Love. Together, the two trap Simon into marrying Henrietta, but once they're wed, they must deal with the tricky problem of consummating their union without conceiving a child no easy feat considering the times. Meanwhile, Esme deals with guilt over her husband's death and the arrival of an old flame. At times, Esme's plight threatens to eclipse Henrietta's, but both story lines are intriguing in their own right. Though Simon is less compelling than the heroes from James's previous books, this spry story will seduce readers with its wily wit and distinctive characters.