Handsome and wealthy Lord Christopher Highclare made it painfully clear why he was asking a virtual nobody like Miss Louisa Cherington to be his wife. He had made a promise to her dying brother to do so, and was honour-bound to keep that vow.
Proud and beautiful Louisa made it just as clear why she was accepting this man who not only made no pretence of loving her, but made no secret of the ravishing woman who was his mistress. Louisa, too, was bowing to the wishes of her late brother, who wanted to rescue her from poverty and the peril of Captain Geoffrey Lawrence, the notorious rake who was in hot pursuit of her.
Thus these two were bound to marry - and bound to wonder what would happen then.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. Both the main characters were nice, sensible people. They were ready to enter in a marriage of convenience and making the best of it.
Although they marry because the hero has made a vow to Louisa's brother and she wants some security after being dismissed from the house she works in as a governess they find themselves pleased with each other and ready to develop warmer feelings to one another. However Louisa had been dismissed because the older brother of the girl she teached was pursuing her and his young stepmother was jealous (yes the stepmother was having an affair with the stepson). Looking for revenge the woman sends Louisa a gift pretending to be her stepson. This originates a huge misunderstanding between Louisa and her husband and everything goes bad after that. Louisa discovers her husband had a mistress and doesn't believe that it is over between them. And Christopher refuses to believe that Louisa did not accept gladly Captain Lawrence's advances.
The tension rises when all four meet for a regatta on the Island of Wight, it made for an interesting setting, and Louisa believes Christopher to be enamoured of Thea still and he still thinks she might have responded to Captain Lawrence's advances. It doesn't help that Thea is determined to get Christopher back and does everything to make Louisa jealous.
Although I do like some conflict I thought this one went on for too long. If they had just talked to one another many a misunderstanding and harsh words could have been avoided. Also the happy ending was a bit rushed as everything is solved in one final scene.