The story begins with Lord Damian Ashby arriving at a betrothal ball for a man and woman he has never met. He spends the first page or two being silently horrified none of the guests (or the hosts) are as high in society as he is. He then catalogues everything not so great about the attendees and the ball itself. I can totally see several different English actors playing him, and yes, I did just stop myself from listing the actors. We meet Lady Theresa, as she immediately drags her Cousin Damian into a waltz. She had been hoping at one time to be the girl who would be marrying the bridegroom of the party. That is, until he met and fell in love with his bride. Sigh.
Alright, next we get to a few weeks later, at the Earl’s estate, Lady Theresa hanging by her last nerve. Her father had what the story calls an ‘attack’, but I think he had a stroke. Apparently the Earl’s previous man of business stole incredible amounts of money from them and Theresa has been running the house like a meager mouse. No, I didn’t really plan on the rhyme. The way her father had been trying to keep afloat was by using Theresa’s dowry, which means when he crosses she will be homeless and completely without even a small amount of money. Theresa sends for Damian, as per her father’s request, she also had to let go of almost all the servants and is running ragged keeping the books, the house and herself together. The lawyer came, the minister’s sister moved in and Damian arrived and was peeved at the state of the house, etc. He had plans to only stay a few days, maybe a week, then return to London and his not really debauched life.
Theresa was many things, practical being one of them. She knows how to run the farm and house, she’s a perfect ahem, lady of the house so to speak. Her father instructed her to teach Damian about the house, farms, tenants, the town and all the things he will have to know about inheriting the Earldom and that estate. Damian always thought Theresa had beautiful eyes, but as he listens to her instructions, meets many of the tenant, farmers and townsfolk, he realizes there is more to her than meets the eye. Ms. Ellis has truly written us just a darling story. I grew to love the characters, had a moment or two of tears, a moment or two of wanting to slap some sense into both Theresa and Damian…but you know, we always have those things in a well written story, or at least we should. While I generally read books that make me blush, this is part of the Ellora’s Cave Blush® Imprint. That means stories not so much sex but a lot more romance. This is such a sweet story!