Richard Hill, the Earl of Windermere, needs to marry and beget an heir, entailing a curious ritual that had been part of the family myth for generations. This he refuses to do. All Richard's affairs have led him to believe that he may be unable to have children--but, nary a by blow in sight.
Esme, Lady Heathcote, a not so discreet widow lady knew she was barren. She thoroughly enjoys her independence. Lovers and no involvement are part of that.
When Esme's lover announces his engagement to another, Esme is furious. Her code of behaviour has always included the strict rule of no engaged or married men for a dalliance.
Richard offers her an affair for the duration of the house party--an offer that will ease her public humiliation. Neither of them can foresee the emotional link that will be forged. But Esme is determined that the affair will be short lived and that the man who has become more than a friend will be able to move on to a more suitable bride, one who will provide Richard with his much needed heir. I quite enjoyed Esme, her strong character, her determination and compassion. An interesting plot that involves a woman that in other novels is nearly always the 'other'; the hardened widow seeking a husband using all her wicked wiles, only to be let down when the innocent young beguiling thing walks away with the hero (often a rake!) Here we have a mature woman who enjoys her life and takes charge of her inclinations, without pretence and prevarication. Quite liberating. I have gone through years of reading, convinced that those widows who took lovers, were always grasping harpies looking for the main chance. Esme is certainly not of that mould. Refreshing!
A NetGalley ARC