In the end I didn't like this novel. Mainly because I recognised the type of heroine Verity turns out to be. A good old-fashioned ball-breaker. You know. The kind of gal who puts her man through hell before she accepts his proposal of marriage. Give out some bump and grind then make the guy feel like a piece of dirt for accepting it.
The hero, Kylemore, proposes to Verity twice. Once at the beginning of the story where she declines and then again on the last few pages where Verity accepts. Inbetween there's endless miserable fleeings and sordid reunions. Just about one chapter of happiness. Pages and pages of completely insincere 'I'm not worthy' crap from the heroine which is just an excuse to further put the hero through the wringer. Poor sap.
I absolutely loathed the character of Verity's brother. At 23 years old, he's more than capable of earning an honest living. But what does he do? Leeches off his sister, the hooker. His oafish shenanigans force Kylemore to declare Verity his mistress in front of an unruly mob. The whole scene made me cringe. In fact I cheered when Ben, the brother, got the whooping he so thoroughly deserved. Why Kylemore gave him even the time of day defied any reason. Still. That's the sort of baggage that comes with marrying a hooker.
The novel is also inconsistent in the characterisations and motivations of the main couple. All Verity needed to say in order to get rid of the Duke was, 'Actually Kylemore, I think I may have a slight case of the pox.' Her 'I want to be alone' schtick was just a total tease. I much prefered the scenes between the manipulative, assured Soraya and the arrogant Kylemore. The few that there were. The dowager Duchess was a magnificent creation. Ah. What might have been.
Basically this novel is a throwback to mid 70s monstrosities. Thank goodness most romance writers have given up this type of drivel. Even Gypsy Lady by Shirlee Busbee is better. Which is not saying much.