One of the dynamics we’re told characterized Regency society was that the young ladies desperately hoped for a handsome swain to be smitten with them, and propose marriage. Marriage was the great prize, so worthy in itself, that a husband’s specific characteristics were details in comparison. To be without a fellow was a sad, sad fate, so any proposal of marriage was a form of salvation.
In my recent release THE CAPTIVE, Gilly, Countess of Greendale, has had the benefit of a proposal, and it was by all lights, a “good” match. She married an earl, became the lady of grand manor, and hostess over many a glittering affair. Widowhood befalls her, and she finally, finally can order her life as she pleases.
She does NOT please to remarry. Husbands are a burden, at best, and for eight years, Gilly endured a husband who fell far short of “best.” All the bended knee and moonlit waltzes in the world won’t make any hay with her.
Christian has also been married, and has a child in need of a mother. When it occurs to him that Gilly could fulfill that role well, he naturally assumes becoming a duchess will be temptation enough even for a widowed countess.
Earth to Christian: Um, nope.
What follows is a different sort of courtship, with His Grace falling back on military skills—reconnaissance, stealth, confrontation, marksmanship (of a sort)—to win the heart of a lady who has no patience with most masculine pursuits, much less those of a military variety.
For Gilly, courting is not a matter being wooed, so much as it is a matter of earning her trust. She falls in love, but more to the point, she comes to believe Christian truly loves her and is done with the conflict and strife in his past.
Earth to Gilly: Um, nope.
Gilly must wrestle with what love and honor require, of her, of Christian, and of the married state. (She also wrestles with Christian a time or two.) The answers surprise her and Christian both, but as surprises often do, they lead to a very happily ever after.