When Nicholas Hartley inherits the family title after his brother's untimely death, an arranged marriage to a woman he's never met is the last thing he wants. But when his bride raises her veil at the altar, Nicholas realizes that his wedding night might prove to be a pleasure after all. After a bedding that leaves them both breathless, Nicholas discovers Meg's deception, and decides to teach his scheming bride how to be a proper duchess, kiss by devastating kiss...
Meg Lynton's father died and left his family destitute. They are selling off their belongings and down to their last items when they are approached by a Dowager Duchess asking if Meg's sister Rose to marry her son. The man is notorious and is in all the scandal sheets and Rose is not happy about the prospect. So not happy that when everyone wakes up the next morning they find that Rose has disappeared. The Lynton family is desperate for money so they head to London without Rose and send their uncle off to try and find Rose . Meg stands in for Rose at the modiste and the fittings but when Rose still isn't found by the time the wedding day comes Meg stands in for her sister there as well. With a heavy veil on her face she gets married to a Duke.
Nicholas is in no way ready to get married but he figures he'll consummate the marriage and then send his wife off to the country to live. When he sees Meg, however, he decides that maybe marriage won't be as bad as he thinks as he finds her beautiful and quite desirable. But Meg isn't willing to see that Nicholas has changed his womanizing ways. Even though she loves how they are in bed together she's not willing to let the relationship grow.
Then there's the issue of Nicholas's brothers death – that he finds out wasn't just an accident. He finds out the facts and then finds out that Meg's father was involved as well. The story is about dealing with the fall out from the deaths as well, Nicholas's barracuda mother and of course their romance.
This is a hard review to write because of a couple of different reasons. The main reason being that while I was completely engrossed in the book, I think because of the writing style, I didn't love the story or the characters and that always makes for difficult review writing – at least it does for me.
I really liked Meg at first. She knew what she had to do for her family and was the strength behind them after her father died. She was intrigued by Nicholas because of what she had read in the scandal sheets so that pushed her in his direction for sure. My problems came up later when she was so distrustful of him. At one point it was said by someone that her sister Rose had gone to London, finally, and had met Nicholas. Meg automatically assumed that the scandal sheets were correct and that Rose was involved with Nicholas. That was a bit disturbing as she knew her sister well and knew that she would never do something like that. Whether she trusted Nick or not she should have thought things through and at least trusted her sister. Letting her emotions get the best of her wasn't very pretty. Now that being said Nick never actually came out and denied anything when asked and that made things more difficult for her. Then there were her insecurities that stemmed from her father calling her his ugly duck all her life. She had 3 or 4 beautiful blond sisters and as she had red hair and wasn't classically beautiful she was thought to be not pretty at all. The insecurities got to be a bit much after a while and really had me disliking Meg.
Nicholas was part ass, part nice guy. I think he had had such a bad reputation before he went off to war but after he came back he had changed. Not completely but enough that his previous reputation kind of pissed him off. He was surprisingly compliant with his mother and the whole marriage thing which was a bit shocking as he didn't seem the type to let his mother make those kinds of decisions. He was very determined in finding the answers behind his brothers death and I admired his fortitude in finding answers. Then there was the end of the book. When it seems that the couple has reconciled Nick does something incredibly unexpected (and kind of stupid, imho) and I just hated that added part. It seemed to be a bit superfluous and though it showed more strength on Meg's part it didn't do much for me with Nick.
The one thing that REALLY bothered me throughout the story was the fact that Nick kept calling Meg by the name Maggie. Her real name was Marguerite but went by Meg. When Nick first finds out that he married Meg and not Rose he's more than pissed off. He calls her Maggie and...
“Don’t call me that!” she snapped.After telling her that that's how he sees a "Maggie" he continues to call her that throughout the book. OMG I wanted to reach into the pages and skin the man alive whenever he said it. It made me doubt his love for her when he was still calling her a name that he feels has the sound of a gutter to it. Oy
“Why not? It suits you. Maggie has the sound of the gutter to it, perfect for a sneak thief and a harlot.”
As for secondary characters I didn't care for Nick's mother or actually Meg's either. The former was a hard, hard woman and the latter was WAY too emotional – neither endeared themselves to me at all.
Now the writing in the story was compelling and interesting. Not overly descriptive, not too much inner thought and was a quick read. In the end it was an interesting story but I just had a hard time clicking with the characters.
Rating: 3 out of 5