Publisher: Avon (November 25, 2008)
The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.
Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to rest—until disaster strikes.
The duke demands an annulment.
Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title—or him—without a fight.
She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon's heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.
Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity—but her heart?
- beautiful, alluring, spirited heroine: check
- mysterious, handsome and magnetic hero: check
- delicious plot where both are virgins and now the Duke has come home to claim his bride: check
- obstacle in that heroine is too bold and opinioniated for Duke's peace of mind and he wants an annulment: check
- determination to conquer obstacle in that the Duchess wants her man after all this time patiently waiting and remaining chaste: check
The elements are all there. It sounded like a truly delightful romance waiting to unfold. The Duke practices the Middle Way which is about avoiding conflict, passion and arguments with his outspoken wife, and he decides to annul their marriage before it is consummated. The Duchess is righteously pissed, since she's waited 11 years for her darling husband to come home and finally make her his, and she's more than ready to fulfill her end of the bargain. After much consideration and with the help of her dear friend Jemma, she decides she is going to seduce her inexperienced husband and that will be that.
Only then there's all these bills that have piled up, going back over 5-6 years, that his now deceased father never bothered to pay and his mother decided not to either, and this is a complicated and time-consuming process that Simeon painstakingly muddles through, with some assistance from his meddlesome wife. The dowager Duchess is appalled to discover that her son, who has now returned home from his adventures, is nothing at all like his father, and this rejection saddens Simeon greatly. The family estate is practically in ruins, and the noxious odor from the water closets is enough to make the inhabitants feel dreadfully ill. And soooo much time is spent resolving these issues instead of bringing Isidore and Simeon together to at least indulge some kind of personal interaction that I wanted to pull my hair out. Not only that, but the characters tend to be separated for weeks at a time in this series, and it makes me wonder how could they ever fall in love when they never encounter each other but for short periods of time?