At the tender age of twelve, Deborah Cavendish is wakened in the middle of the night, drugged by laudanum, and joined in marriage to a lad only a few years older than herself. Then she is whisked back to her chamber and left to believe that the whole nightmarish episode was nothing more than a dream.
When Julian Hesham, the Marquess of Alston, returns to England after many years spent abroad, his reputation as the ton’s most notorious rake precedes him. But contrary to popular opinion, the Marquess is not interested in women in general, just in one woman–his wife. Afraid that Deb Cavendish will only care for his title, Julian conceals the truth that their marriage is a fait accompli and sets out to woo her as an untitled gentleman with no great fortune to his name. But as time ticks by, the opportunity for revealing his secret passes and is gone. How will his dear wife react when she discovers the games that he has been playing with her, and will she have the wherewithal to get their marriage annulled?
This book, set in the mid-18th century, had a Gothic flavor to it that made one entirely sympathetic to Deb’s predicament. The highhanded treatment she received from both her brother and her husband was despicable, as was the fact that she had no recourse. Many aspects of this book reminded me of Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer, however, the author chose to add sexual situations to the plot that are absent in Heyer’s stories. The imbroglio ending wrapped everything up nicely, and in the grand finale, despite all that she has been through, Deborah ends up with a happily ever after.