Proper Miss Elsie Stanhope falls in love with the assistant to a famous painter who has been commissioned to paint a mural in the Stanhope ballroom. She has been betrothed, however, from birth to marry the heir of the Duke of Kingston; if the marriage is called off her father will be financially ruined. What to do . . . ?What I Liked
The first half of this book.What I Didn't Like
The second half of this book.
Seriously. The first half or so was a lovely love story, but the second half was a mess. After carrying on in secret for weeks, Elsie suddenly falls deathly ill, which prompts Alexander (our hero) to announce that he is the eldest son of the Duke of Kingston, long said to be dead, and that he is going to reclaim his inheritance so he can marry Elsie.
Inexplicable things just start happening at an alarming rate. Why did the Duke hate Alexander so much? Why did Elsie so easily give up on her vow to wait for Alexander? Why did Alexander disrupt Elsie's wedding only to reject her? Why did he later insist on marrying her and then treating her like dirt? It isn't that the author didn't try to explain this stuff; it's just that she didn't make it the least bit believable.
Elsie is sweet, but not a particularly likable heroine. She acts way younger than her 22 years. Alexander was a delicious damaged hero.
I will give a shout out to the scene where Alexander convinces his mother that he's not an imposter. Very moving.