He doesn't need another wife--he's already had two of those--but he needs someone trustworthy to care for his two neglected sons, and the widowed Mrs. Henning is ideal. But the situation is that she has made a powerful enemy, and the only way he can protect her is by making her his wife. In a marriage of convenience. And then he takes off for London to resume his diplomatic career and his demanding German princess of a mistress.
Alissa, however, is no meek miss to be taken for granted. Having been a true wife and mother before, she is determined to force her new husband to face up to his responsibilities. It isn't long before the neglectful earl comes home to find his beautiful London home invaded by four mischievous boys, their mongrel puppies, and an indignant wife who demands to know why their marriage has not been consummated. He got a mother for his children; on her side, she wants a daughter out of the deal.
While not one of the most entertaining stories I've read by Barbara Metzger, the story is full of humorous situations as Alissa and the earl are gradually drawn together in a true marriage that becomes the foundation of a strong family unit. No young miss could have exhibited the kind of determination and backbone that was necessary to accomplish the task. As a penniless widow with two children to provide for, Alissa was ideal for the job.
Nevertheless, it doesn't get five stars from me, because I felt the hero was a little too reluctant, at least in the beginning. And I agree with earlier reviewers that the adultery that is hinted at after their marriage tarnishes his character somewhat, even taking into consideration the status of the marriage at the time. Leaving her to go to London (and his mistress) on their wedding night is not something that can be quickly forgiven, especially when it left the heroine open to malicious gossip about the true nature of the marriage.
Perhaps it's because I'm used to the shorter Regency format, but it seems to me that this book would have been more effective with about 50 fewer pages. As it is, there seem to be too many scenes that don't necessarily advance the plot.
All in all, however, I find the time spent reading this book to be well spent. You won't regret it!