*ARC supplied by publisher*
Theodora Saxby is not the most attractive young lady coming out this year and James Rayburn has just found out that his father has embezzled from his ward who happens to be Theodora. James father tries to force his son to marry Theodora, but James has been best friends with Theodora for years. They are like brother and sister. Then one night James kisses Theodora and things change. Don’t forget these two people are quite young in years for today’s standards which makes this a little difficult to get by. With this kiss sparks fly like crazy, marriage proposals are given and accepted and with all due hast Theo and James are married without her ever knowing that James Father tried to coerce him into it. And things are going quite well for a couple of days…until James Father catches them in a rather compromising situation and harangues James about putting a bag over Theo’s head when making love among other secrets.
So now, Theo knows that James has apparently married her for her dowry and not for love. Too bad, for Theo since she was really falling in love with James. No more brother/sister relationship. And Theodora asks James to leave. Which he does and becomes of all things - a privateer. Now he has been gone the 7 years one needs to declare someone else who is missing- dead. Naturally he is back. Theodora has certainly turned from the Ugly Duckling into the Swan during this time.
During the time James has been gone he has not been celibate, and I know that some people will take issue with this, but we have to remember that this was a different time, place and circumstances. What is not to be expected or put up with in today’s man and woman, will likely be de rigueur for this time and period. If you can get beyond the ‘cheating’ this is a lively and interesting book, although I do not think that this is the best of Ms James writings. Even thought there is a seven year time passage, the time spent with James and Theo is brief and spent mostly either discussing making love or in bed. Whatever character growth there is has been done away from each other. Theo has changed the most and has become somewhat brittle. Nevertheless, apparently once they copulate all will be well and we get our happily ever after.