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.
Eloisa 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.