Summary: Horatia Winwood is simply helping her family - When the Earl of Rule proposed marriage to her sister Lizzie, Horatia offers herself instead. Her sister is already in love with someone else, and Horatia is willing to sacrifice herself for her family's happiness. Everyone knows she's no beauty, but she'll do her best to keep out of the Earl's way and make him a good wife. And then the Earl's archenemy, Sir Robert, sets out to ruin her reputation ...
The Earl of Rule has found just the wife he wants - Unbeknownst to Horatia, the Earl is enchanted by her. There's simply no way he's going to let her get into trouble. Overcoming some misguided help from Horatia's harebrained brother and a hired highwayman, the Earl routs his old enemy, and wins over his young wife, gifting her with a love that she never thought she could expect.
Comments: I have an intrinsic problem with this story. Why would Rule accept Horatia as a substitute for her sister Lizzie. Lizzie is the eldest, she's beautiful, and has a lovely personality. Charlotte, the middle daughter, reminded me of Mary Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. Horatia is not beautiful and not rich and she stutters - quite a bit, so what the heck is the appeal? I guess the idea that she will leave Rule to run his live as he sees fit without an interference from Horry (hate the nickname by the way), but really having the Massey (ie. his mistress) is enough to let him over look a seventeen year-old with a stutter? I just can't buy this part of the story.
That said, Horatia, now married has a grand time for herself - basically she's become a club girl - out all night with all sorts of people, gambling, drinking and living it up. Rule seems not to mind until she strikes up a friendship with his enemy Sir Robert Lethbridge. Lethbridge, at one time, was interested in Rule's sister Louisa. The surrounding characters, including Horatia's brother Pelham, Captain Edward Heron, Lizzie's eventual husband and Pelham's friend Pomeroy are well written and quite hysterical in the search for a missing piece of jewelery that could indite Horatia. If you can suspend reality to get past why Rule would want to marry Horatia, this is a very interesting and fun story.