Not exactly your typical Regency-set historical romance, this novel has a countess escaping her dissolute, abusive husband by pretending to be a soldier's widow and a penniless nobleman who was wounded in the war, both physically and emotionally. The two cross paths when Lucinda and the foundling she's adopted are found renting the dower house on Hugo, Lord Wanstead's estate. What makes this a not exactly typical novel is not that the two main characters don't fight their attractions to each other (they do), nor that they don't fall into bed together (they do), nor that they fall in love with one another (they do), nor that they each have secrets that threaten to tear them apart (they do). What makes this non-typical is that not only does Lucinda give in to her desires and sleep with Hugo, but that she does it while still married to the odious, very much alive Lord Denbigh. And furthermore, she feels no guilt over her infidelity. That's quite a departure.
But Lucinda is an unusual heroine in many ways. She is not the tiny thing that often populates romances, nor is she statuesque and willowy. Instead, she a solid woman who likes to eat, tall and Rubenesque. In running from the abusive all-around horrid Lord Denbigh, she finally asserts herself and nothing and no one, including Hugo, will ever be able to rein her in again. She has invested money carefully, giving herself something to live on and it is the fact that she paid to rent the dower house in cash that means the reclusive Hugo, impoverished as his estate is, cannot turf her out like he would prefer. Once Lucinda's good heart forces her to confront Hugo for the good of his tenants, they start developing a relationship. She pulls him out of his shell, slowly convincing him to interact with his people again. But she cannot heal the biggest hurt of all, his belief that he is responsible for both his mother and his wife's deaths. Even worse, she has led him on by not telling him that she is a married woman.
The denouement of the novel is fairly conventional despite the originally unconventional bits. But that ending is just what fans of the genre want and expect so it works. It felt a bit rushed though and Hugo as a character was never fully fleshed out, aside from his clearly mistaken sense of guilt. Young's focus seemed to be on Lucinda and drawing a heroine who would be believable to historical romance readers while still infusing her with many 21st century ideals and opinions. This mostly succeeded although witnessing Lucinda's transformation from cowed victim to strong lead could have been better developed and shown. Overall an interesting entry in the Regency-set historical romance genre.