To her legions of adoring suitors, it comes as quite a shock when Lady Sophie York rejects an offer of marriage from the dashing, rakish Patrick Foakes in favor of amiable but dull Braddon Chatwin. He may be an earl, but it is Patrick's stolen kisses that sear her lips.
When Patrick, in disguise, scales a ladder to retrieve his friend's fiancée, he never expects the elopement to be his own. Neither does Sophie, Braddon, or the rest of the tattling ton. One hasty wedding later, the passionate innocent and the sophisticated rogue play out their own intricate dance as Sophie masters what it takes to keep a man where he belongs. And Patrick learns the ultimate lesson in love.
The daughter of the marquis of Brandenburg, Lady Sophie York is a beguiling and flirtatious innocent. One of the most marriageable young women in Regency London, she's also secretly brainy. Yet she finds herself in love with a man she is dead set against loving: Patrick Foakes, a handsome rake. Sophie has determined never to marry, since her father is a notorious philanderer who constantly humiliates Sophie's mother with his flagrant pursuit of Frenchwomen. Sure that Patrick will always be a libertine, she turns him down when he asks for her hand. She then accepts the proposal of his stodgy friend, Lord Slaslow. Patrick is stunned--a little relieved, but mostly stung: the proud lothario has fallen for Sophie. After Patrick adopts a disguise as a favor to Lord Saslow, the fiery pair are thrown together. They find they can't resist each other, so they bed and marry. But each has separate, unspoken fears--she of his assumed infidelity, he of her early death from childbirth--that puts them at cross-purposes, until tragedy strikes. James (Potent Pleasures) proves herself a notable chronicler of the genre here. Her spritely tale takes on substance with a subplot about events in the Ottoman Empire. In addition, while the customary hallmarks are in evidence--the breathless, drawn-out sex scenes; the misunderstandings that almost ruin everything--these contretemps flow naturally from the characterizations and plot, and contribute to an engaging story.