Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.
When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.
Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?
Damaris is determined not to marry. Her guardian wants her to have a season but she’s not sure it’s a good idea. She has her reasons for not marrying and she’s sticking to her guns.
Freddy is a friend of Damaris’s brother-in-law and was asked to look after Damaris and her sisters while he’s on his honeymoon. Freddy wants nothing to do with it all but agrees anyway. As much as he says he wants nothing to do with the girls he’s been pretty much smitten with Damaris from the minute he saw her.
Freddy finds out that his mother is planning a house party and inviting tons of eligible women. She insists that he WILL get engaged during the party and on the last night, at the ball, announce his engagement. Freddy normally would just ignore his mother but she deviously planned the house party around the only day of the year he ever sets foot at home – the day of his brothers yearly memorial service. Freddy knows he can’t stay away from his home on that day but he doesn’t want to get engaged. What he does is ask Damaris to play his fiancé and act like they’re engaged so that his mother will cancel the party and it works.
Damaris is excited that Freddy plans on buying her a cottage in payment for the fake engagement but she hates lying to her sisters and guardian. In order to get away from it all Freddy makes an exception and takes her to his home (two weeks before the memorial service) to meet his parents.
During the time that Damaris and Freddy are at his home Damaris gets closer and closer to Freddy. She finds out info about him that puts new light on the way he acts in public and her heart opens to him and she falls in love. Unfortunately she still won’t allow herself to marry because of something horrible that happened in her past. Fortunately she finally tells Freddy and it all works out in the end.
This was such a great yet highly emotional book for me. I really love Gracie’s writing and this proved to be just as good as the other books of hers I’ve read.
The reason this one was so emotional for me, I think, was because of Freddy and all he’d gone through in his life. The guilt he’d carried around due to the death of his brother when he was just 12 and the nasty way his parents had treated him. His parents are HORRIBLE! They are vile and condescending and were two people who should never have had children. They treat Freddy like he doesn’t even exist in the world except to create an heir. Freddy is used to being treated as such – even though he doesn’t like it (he tries to hide that fact), but Damaris is appalled at the way that he’s treated and takes it upon herself to tell his parents what she thinks of them. I was totally cheering for Damaris when she did this, let me tell you. They deserved that and so much more!
Damaris’s background was also something that was not the greatest and the telling of her story made my heart hurt. She had been through so much and survived. She really was a strong woman and I admired her so much for that.
The romance between Freddy and Damaris was sweet and loving and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. This story is one, imho, that is not to be missed.
Rating: 4 out of 5