Teresa, Marchioness of Darent, has been married and widowed three times, making quite the scandal among the ton. She is seen as frivolous, as someone who spends her money freely on clothes and gambling, and as someone with many lovers. She uses this reputation to hide her involvement with the reformists, and using her drawing skills making political cartoons.
Captain Owen Purchase, Viscount of Rothbury, has been charged with finding those who side with the reformists. He runs into Teresa at a brothel where he knows a reformist meeting has just taken place. He now has his suspicions about her.
Teresa finds herself in a pickle when a pig of a man who is owed money by Teresa's last husband demands payment with the marriage of Teresa's young step-daughter. Teresa will do anything to stop this, including find a new husband to back her. But Teresa has an extreme problem with intimacy because of abuse from her 2nd husband. She must find someone who would not demand anything physical from her. She has heard Owen cannot perform sexually because of an accident during a battle. Plus if she were to marry him, he would not be able to declare his own wife guilty of working with reformists. So she goes to him with a proposal for a marriage of convenience. He is intrigued, and not just with her fortune, and ends up agreeing.
Just from the little Owen has seen of Teresa, he knows there is more to her than what she is portraying. I think this is my favorite part of the book. Owen shows up each morning during their engagement to take her somewhere different in the city. He makes their getting to know each other fun, and Teresa ends up looking forward to each day. Owen's attraction for Teresa grows, and since this is a romance, Owen is in no way impotent. It is a little too late once Teresa realizes this.
Trust is a big issue for both of them. Teresa really trusts no man - physically or emotionally, after what her second husband did. And Owen must learn to trust a woman who lied about her political activities. I thought Cornick handled it beautifully. They both make mistakes; no relationship is perfect, but they learn to get past their fears and doubts.
This is the 5th book in the series, but I had no problem understanding the story or characters without reading the first four. Great characters and an amusing plot - historical romance fans should give this one a shot.
ARC provided by NetGalley.