What the Duke of Clarendon demanded was insufferable, unthinkable, impossible: Miss Catherine Spenser should go to London with him and pretend to be his fiancée.
True, the duke did think Catherine to be an actress named Nancy Wright, and everyone knew that actresses would do anything for the sum of money he offered.
And true, Catherine was down to her last farthing and desperate not to return to her guardian, the odious Baron Rudolph Spenser, who was eager to auction her off to the vulgarly wealthy Mr. Hugo Overstreet.
But how could Catherine possibly trust this notorious womanizing duke to keep to his end of the bargain of love in public only? And even more troubling, how could she trust herself?
Emma Lange is a hit and miss author me, some titles I really enjoyed and others less so. The False Fiancée falls somewhere in the middle, it was a nice story to spend an afternoon with but it ends up being too predictable to reach keeper status.
The Duke of Clarendon needs someone to pose as his fiancée, he finds the perfect candidate in Catherine who he believes to be a low born actress with low morals. Catherine is in fact a young gentlewoman; she has run away from home when her guardian decided to marry her to an old man and is trying to live as an actress in an honest and respectable way.
She needs Money and so agrees to Clarendon scheme for a fee. She plays the part beautifully of course and even finds herself very remorseful for having to lie to his aunt. At the same time she starts to feel an attraction towards the duke. However he believes her to be” just an actress”. Someone that in his estimation cannot have a desire to earn her life honestly or have strict moral rules. In fact Clarendon wouldn’t be adverse to make her his mistress.
There could have been some emotional angst as the image they both have of the other is constantly challenged by their behavior. This happens more with Clarendon towards Catherine because she keeps surprising him by not behaving as a mere mercenary actress would and Catherine because when Clarendon feels he is softening towards her he is usually rude. However Lange never goes beneath the surface and so the misunderstandings and hurt feelings end up just being predictable and sometimes boring.
Catherine’s real identity ends up being discovered when her guardian finds her in Clarendon’s home and believing them to be lovers demands that he marries her. I couldn’t wait for that final explanation between them so that everything could be cleared up.