This is a lovely story about a true marriage of convenience, where both the husband and the wife consider themselves unworthy of the other.
Rosalie believes herself to be unattractive, unsophisticated, and a poor match for her husband, the toplofty, dour and reclusive Lord Deal. Deal has cut himself off from society and considers himself to bed "utterly depraved" and no fit mate for a sweet innocent like Rosalie. Deal has enough honor left that he has promised himself that he will not consummate the marriage until he has confessed all to Rosalie, at which point he expects her to flee in horror. She, on the other hand, has no idea why he shows no interest in making love to her in the days and weeks after their marriage.
Deal's secret, which goes back to his youth, is indeed shocking, yet when he finally confesses, Rosalie is horrified only by what he has had to endure. In return for Deal "rescuing" her aboard ship after her father's sudden death, she helps rescue him from his demons.
The story is beautifully written, without the intrusion of modern language or attitudes. Extreme patience is required,however, as the reader does not learn about Deal's secrets any sooner than Rosalie does, which is near the end of the book.
Definitely recommended. I plan to go back and read AE's two earlier books, now published by Carina Press. I'm so please that she was finally able to extricate herself from the mess left by Dorchester Publishing's sudden demise.