Arabella, widowed Baroness of Iliffe, has just moved into the dilapidated and long abandoned Crescent Barrows in an attempt to hide from her dead husband’s cousin/new Baron of Iliffe, William, who has been threatening her since he took the title. Gregory Harrow is owner of Crescent Barrows and now Arabella’s landlord. They’re at odds with each other from the moment they meet.
Gregory, born a bastard, has always been bitter and resentful of the ton, blaming London’s judgmental and gossipy ways for the death of his mother. Despite acquiring his own fortune, although through unconventional means, he manipulates and mocks everyone he meets for his own benefit. Arabella loathes his behavior and has no problem telling him so. Gregory insults Arabella’s lack of tact and “wild ways” (IE riding a horse astride), but secretly he loves it. It doesn’t take long for him to show her, though.
Arabella becomes friendly with the Jenkins family and finds herself the object of the son’s, Edmund, affection. Out of jealousy and an attempt to get her attention, Gregory feigns affection for the sister, Lilly. That doesn’t stop A&G from having secret trysts every evening, though. Arabella’s distress and fear of William becomes evident to Gregory, who then insists on “solving” her problems and in turn she will become his wife. Arabella doesn’t take the deal… but that doesn’t stop Gregory from doing it anyway.
Arabella is incredibly easy to sympathize with. She’s suffered unimaginable horrors at the hands of her husband, but she doesn’t let that hold her back. She’s honest and compassionate and strong. Really, an ideal heroine.
Gregory…. well, on the surface he was acerbic and mean, but his love for Arabella went deep. He always acted with a plan, always knew what he was doing, and it was always for Arabella. He’s not poetic or even nice, but his love for Arabella becomes his reason for everything, even life.
*Spoiler* The ending kept me from giving the book 5 stars. It was SUDDEN. The scene where Gregory revealed his love for Arabella wasn’t very descriptive or involved. Edmund’s reaction isn’t even mentioned, and I thought he would have at least a little objection. Also, I wanted some interaction between the H/h after they married, but instead we get a quick description of the impromptu wedding and a one-page epilogue told like a fairytale. It was disappointing.