Widowed Lady Veronica Smithson and famous explorer and lady's man Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater are at cross-purposes. Veronica has been widowed for several years and she misses physical companionship. While she misses the sex, she is uninterested in getting married again, afraid of losing her independence and having to conform to a husband's rules, not that her first husband restricted her in any way. Sebastian, despite his reputation as a rake, is eminently ready to give up his globe-trotting, marry, and settle down. And he's certain that the enticing Veronica is the woman for him. Veronica, meanwhile, is certain that the handsome, intelligent, and roguish Sebastian will be the perfect lover for her. It's not often in a romance that the heroine wants an affair and the hero wants marriage but this latest Victorian set historical romance of Victoria Alexander's has just this very unusual situation.
Both Veronica and Sebastian are very determined to make the other see sense and fall in with the plans they each seperately espouse. With a view to convincing the other than their own plan is the smartest, the two of them retire to Sebastian's newly purchased country home just before Christmas. Veronica is determined to seduce Sebastian while there and he's intent on making her his wife. If it was just a tale of these two, the story wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as it is though. Before they leave town, Sebastian, certain that no woman will hold out against his proposal of marriage for long, tells his sisters of his plans to marry. And so, citing the fact that it has been years since Sebastian has been home for the holidays, his entire family descends on his home where he and Veronica are now faced with utter chaos, the question of how to behave, and a charade. This leads to some very humorous situations. And things get even more complicated when Veronica's father, batty grandmother, and quite feminist aunt, who raised her after the early death of her mother, also arrive at Sebastian's home having heard the rumor of Veronica marrying again.
There is a lot of witty banter here but not as much "can't keep their hands off of each other" lust as might be expected, especially given that the heroine is no virginal miss. The initial attraction is rather rushed but if it then developed into a believable enduring love, that would be fine. As it is though, there's no real display of what makes Veronica and Sebastian love each other and that's too bad. The novel is an entertaining and unusual romance and the by-play between the characters is enjoyable even if the chemistry is a little on the low side and the final misunderstanding that threatens to drive them apart is ridiculous. Romance readers will, on the whole, find this a reasonably fun, quick read.