Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.
Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless . . .
New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.
The already well-worked Bridgerton universe (subject of eight books, including On the Way to the Wedding) is attenuated by this novel linking it to Quinn's Smythe-Smith stories. Lady Sarah Pleinsworth is 21, melodramatic, and tactless, so it's not really a surprise that she's on the shelf. Her nemesis is the lame mathematical savant, Lord Hugh Prentice, younger son of an insane, sadistic marquess. Hugh rouses himself from bleak self-recrimination over the long-ago duel that crippled him only to express how he despises Sarah in terms such as "fingernails on slate." Romance, of course, is inevitable. Quinn's verbal Punch and Judy performance has lost some of its charm in repetition, and these characters are little but mouthpieces for witty repartee. A last-minute inheritance plot tangled by homosexuality, insanity, suicide, and kidnapping leads to a dramatic denouement, but the conflation of lust and coercion among both the good guys and the bad guys makes it difficult to see how a happy ending is possible for Hugh and Sarah.