Lord Robert Mountford has a bad habit of hopping into bed with flirtatious married women, but he steers clear of innocent virgins. Unfortunately, one catches him alone and, mistaking him for his twin brother, falsely accuses him of trying to kiss her. He refuses to marry her and is ostracized by everyone he knows. Even his own father kicks him out.
Three years later, Robert has managed to land a position as an assistant gamekeeper at Wynchwood estate, hiding his true identity as best he can. Frederica Bracewell, the young lady of the house, may prove to be his undoing. Sparks fly between the two of them as Robert helps Frederica with her secret project, drawing local wildlife and adding to her art portfolio so that she can eventually run away to Italy and become an artist.
I knew from the start that I probably wasn't going to like this very much. The book began with the hero naked in bed after having had sex with another man's wife. The woman, Maggie, started trying to match him up with her niece before the two of them had even gotten dressed. The whole thing repulsed me. Shortly after that, Robert was kicked out by his father for not marrying the young lady who said he'd kissed her, and then there was a "three years later" time jump.
Frederica was mistreated by her uncle, frequently punished just for being left-handed, and constantly interrupted because of her stutter. I generally like downtrodden heroines because it's fun seeing them come into their own, but I got so frustrated with both her and Robert that I just couldn't root for them. They were both idiots. When they met, it was instant physical attraction. Also, Frederica was happy because Robert didn't seem to take issue with either her left-handedness or her stutter.
If I remember right, the book had two sex scenes, and the first one happened after Frederica and Robert had spoken to each other maybe three times. Although Robert had just reminded her that he could be fired for letting her into his house alone at night, he for some reason agreed to model for her nude (or nearly nude? I wasn't entirely sure). One thing led to another and, boom, sex scene. Frederica lied and said she wasn't a virgin, which I guess prompted Robert to decide it was okay to risk the best job he'd managed to find in three years.
These characters were so very stupid.
Anyway, in the last third of the book, multiple characters revealed that they weren't who they appeared to be, and the sudden complications at least made things interesting, even though I didn't enjoy the romance. Maggie, the woman Robert was in bed with at the beginning of the book, showed up again. It was awkward, but not quite as bad as I'd expected.
The ending was...terrible. It was like most of the characters experienced personality transplants. Frederica and Robert had doubts about each other that were understandable considering that neither one of them really knew each other very well, but that made it very difficult to believe in their happy ending. Which was very, very happy, with everything wrapping up neatly.
I looked at the summaries of the other books in the series. Looks like Charles, Robert's twin, is the hero of the next book, Robert's friend John is the hero of the third, and the fourth features characters I don't think appeared in this book at all. I have no interest in reading any of them.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)