A Dangerous Deal (Ladies of Worth series Book 2)
Recently widowed Lady Rachel Denby needs financial security. Confirmed bachelor Viscount Arleigh needs a wife to secure his inheritance. She proposes a deal: that they marry and, once financial matters have been resolved, live separately. He accepts. Since Rachel is independent and outspoken and Julius is conventional and formal, this solution seems wise, but it does not take into account the messiness of real life. To meet legal obligations, they are forced to work together to convince others that their marriage is authentic. Despite differences in personality, they start to enjoy each other’s company, to appreciate each other’s qualities, and to feel gratitude for the support in dealing with society in general, and their respective (and difficult) families in particular. Before they realize it, their emotions become engaged, and kisses progress to lovemaking. But then a complication arises, and the promising relationship sours.
Through the experiences of Rachel, her sister Rebecca, and their friend Caro, this romance explores courtship and marriage among the Georgian aristocracy. Honesty, consideration, and readiness both to acknowledge and to forgive mistakes turn out to be the foundation for a good partnership, unsurprisingly, and that is what saves the day. Julius treats Rachel so coldly because, paradoxically, he grows to care for her and fears that marriage will prove painful. That, after all, is the lesson he learned from watching his own parents. Yet her distress is such that it does limit our sympathy for him, and by the time he realizes his folly and declares his love, it is almost too late.
There are a couple of spellcheck errors (ringing for wringing, right for rite) and the conclusion is rather melodramatic, but this is an involving story that teaches a cautionary lesson. Recommended.