Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough has decided to marry and plans to look around for a sensible, rational wife. Instead he agrees to help his best friend by escorting his cousin, Lady Clarissa, to protect her from a persistent and aggressive suitor.
Due to events in her past, Clarissa has decided never to marry but when Count Durand assaults her at a ball and it becomes clear that he is not going to stop, she agrees to marry Edwin in name only until she is ready to consummate the marriage.
Edwin and Clarissa have known each other for years, his sister is her best friend, her cousin is his, and they are neighbours too. They think they know all there is to know about each other, he thinks she is impetuous and flighty, she thinks he's stuffy and delights in provoking him. It was fun watching them get to know the people behind the public facade, she uses her flighty persona to keep people at a distance and he keeps everyone at a distance but deep down is very protective of everyone he loves.
It must be difficult to bring something new to an old trope but Sabrina Jeffries kept my attention with the subplot of the Count's reasons for pursuing Clarissa. Edwin is a lovely character, he was so understanding when he found out what was holding Clarissa back and was very gentle in helping her understand that it wasn't her fault. He was a bit judgemental at times and Clarissa was great at knocking him off his high horse.
Overall, I enjoyed it, their relationship needed the page time or it would have been unrealistic but this meant the resolution of the subplot felt a little rushed, it had a lovely epilogue though.