The central theme of this book - a marriage of convenience that becomes more to the people in it - is not particularly
uncommon within this genre. This treatment by Michèle Ann Young stands out a little in that her heroine, Caroline Torrington, isn't
a typical female lead. For a start, she isn't thin and sylph-like but voluptuous and curvy with mousy brown hair. She is embarrassed that her assets go before her, so to speak, and feels dowdy and unattractive.
Her childhood friend Lucas, Viscount Foxhaven, is quite the opposite – handsome, dashing and a rake.
When he asks her to marry him (because his father is insisting on it and because marrying Caroline will enable him to access some money from his family coffers), she is tempted but says no as she has no desire to marry a rake. Lucas can be pretty persuasive and overbearing,
however, and eventually the marriage takes place.
This is all right at the beginning of the book. The rest of the story shows both Lucas and Caroline getting to know one another as adults rather than playmates (although none of this is in the bedroom), and Caroline definitely begins to come out of her shell as she has a season in London and finds she's a success.
There are nefarious forces at work in Lucas's cousin Cedric, though, and Caroline's newly-met relative, a Chevalier from France, might not be as good a friend as she thinks.
The historical setting of this book is good with details about the season in London, life in Paris, and some of the strong familial expectations that can mold peoples' lives.
The central love story - that Lucas and Caro love each other but neither realizes it - is rather drawn out
with too many misunderstandings and confusions that become tiresome after a
while. I also rather doubt Lucas's rake credentials when he doesn't seduce his wife for many months, even with the half-excuse of not wanting children.
This is a reasonable read and always enjoyable, but the central plot feels forced at times with a rather melodramatic 'baddie', and the hero's reconciliation with his father also appears to be a surprisingly easy work after 30 years of disagreements.