Lady Sophia Bryant gives in to the suggestion of her friends that she engage in A Counterfeit Betrothal with the witty, roguish Lord Francis Sutton in the hope that her long-estranged parents will take alarm and unite to put an end to her engagement. Lord Francis, always up for a lark, is quite willing to be a party to the deceit. The Earl and Countess of Clifton, who parted after a bitter quarrel fourteen years earlier, react just as Sophia hoped they would, though their reunion is not without its bitter and passionate outbursts and shows little sign of being a permanent one. Sophia's determination not to allow her feelings to be become involved with Francis seems just as doomed to failure, and Francis is very largely to blame. This is a double love story, the one light and humorous, the other far more deeply and darkly passionate.
Mary Gregg, the widowed Lady Mornington, is feeling depressed at the loss of her close friendship with the Earl of Clifton after he has reunited with his estranged wife. She goes to Vauxhall Gardens with friends one evening, hoping to lighten her mood, but is severely annoyed to discover that The Notorious Rake, Lord Edmond Waite, is also a member of the party. She is further annoyed when she is more or less trapped into taking a stroll alone with him—just as a thunderstorm is looming. Mary had a close brush with death during a thunderstorm when she was bivouacking in a tent with her late husband during the Peninsular Wars, and now she has a blind terror of storms. When this one breaks overhead, she behaves with Edmond in a manner that will come back to haunt her through the rest of the book. For his part, Edmond is amused to find himself tête-à-tête with the very intelligent, very proper Lady Mornington—until the thunderstorm propels her even closer than that.
Dell, ISBN 9780440245476
The Notorious Rake
The wondrously talented Mary Balogh adds another pearl beyond price to her
string of matchless Regency bestsellers with this striking portrait of two
seemingly mismatched lovers. Mary Gregg, Lady Mornington, has every
intention of avoiding the company of the wastrel Lord Edmond Waite. A
womanizer of the highest order, he is not the kind of man to command either
her respect or her liking. A sudden thunderstorm, however, changes
everything. Forced to seek shelter with him in the byways of Vauxhall
Gardens, she discovers a whole new side to the man as he soothes her
understandably strong fears. But comfort explodes equally suddenly into
passion and in a reckless moment the two become lovers. In the light of day
and appalled by her own behavior, Mary wants nothing to do with the
notorious lecher, who insists on pursuing the relationship anyway. Not even
her imminent betrothal to another man can deter his campaign to win Mary for
his own. Ironically, the way to Mary's heart lies through the ghosts of his
own past. Will he have the courage to confront them? Once again, Ms. Balogh
spins a powerful web of passion as she looks deep into the souls of two
lonely people who together find a very special heartsease. Provocatively
conceived and developed, this unforgettable love story breaks all the rules
and makes the reader beg for more.
Melinda Helfer, Romantic Times