This story begins telling the mysterious midnight marriage of a drugged 12 year old sister of a sniveling lord and a distraught 16 year old duke's son. Fast forward 9 years later, and the young girl is now a woman, completely ignorant of her arranged marriage. In a peculiar line of events, the duke's son, Julian - Marquis of Alston, ends up facing his now grown-up bride, Deborah, unbeknownst to him. But this love-at-first-sight is wrought with those who seek revenge against Julian and use Deb as a shield against Society's eye. What follows are scandalous charges and dramatic duels, in hopes that Julian and Deb can finally love each other in peace.
I absolutely loved the story as a whole, once I got past the confusion of events from the first few chapters. Deb is a wonderful character of a woman. Her strength and individuality are very refreshing. Unfortunately, I'm not quite as understanding towards Julian. He's definitely complex - somewhere between a duke's arrogance, a man's pride, and an emotional flirt. I really enjoyed him while he was courting Deb, but after their honeymoon, I was very unsympathetic towards the miscommunication or lack thereof. Of course, that's the usual obstacle for most written romances: assumptions and rumors and secrets. What threw me the most, I suppose, was Julian's sudden attitude change, shortly after Deb comes to Paris. At one moment he is saying some pretty nasty stuff to Deb, then being in awe over her announcement, then a cold ignorance, and finally he's sweet, protective, and a good husband again. The moodiness was off-putting, but I sort of understood it.
I thought this romantic relationship was a bit more 'real' than others I've read recently. While there is the usual amount of secrets and assumptions causing gross miscommunication, the characters' reactions seemed more realistic to me than what other authors have described. I just found their love and the 3rd person omniscient narration refreshing. Also, the web of revenge around the characters was definitely interesting. I had not known this was the 2nd of a series, but it wasn't necessary to read the first one. Although this download, the book is only 75%, the last quarter are previews of the 1st and 3rd books. I was a little disappointed to not get more from Deb and Julian, but it did end well, and the epilogue was a nice touch.