Yuk. This was going to be another dnf but then I thought maybe I've been a bit fussy with my romances so I gave it another chance. More's the pity.
Let's just say that once Meg goes to live with Cade and his family the game of chess never makes another appearance. She started out as a fairly interesting independent heroine. That impression changed when she agreed to perpetrate the fraud on Cade's family and then when she agreed to let him buy her tons and tons of clothes. So she was hardly in a position to say no when he crept into her bedroom night after night to introduce her to 'new positions.' All that was just tawdry. Unfortunately the author also has Meg humiliated both by Everett, who basically said she was easily fooled, and then by Cade, who said she was an easy lay. Poor Meg. I felt her shame. But also I agreed with both the comments made by the guys. And then the author has her almost commit murder for the sake of the guy who had just insulted her. Meg still gives Cade her unconditional love!! In God's name, "Why?"
The trouble is that Cade doesn't actually talk that much to Meg during the novel. He escorts her to parties and shops but it's hard to see how the relationship develops. He is also a blockhead who doesn't seem to realise how much he hurt Meg with his words; and he is also too easily provoked to violence and led up the garden path by the so-called villain. No way could a character like Cade have been any kind of successful spy with the type of temperament he displays in the novel. And then there's the fact that even after he does her for the first time (due to 'loss of control') he states he can never marry Meg because of his guilt about Calida...pathetic cop-out.
Also. Didn't Meg have any friends of her own? Whatever. She never seems to look them up once she is esconced within the Byron family home. btw It is unimaginable that a dowager Duchess would allow a second son to install a woman who is effectively his mistress into the family home. I've never read that in a historical before.
Originally I stopped reading around Chapter 6. That's when the heroine, a single female in cod-regency times, goes into the bedroom of a man who is almost a stranger and let's him molest her ...because she likes him. Not a thought to call the servants to help Cade in his nightmare. And then when they consumate their relationship for the first time he lets her wake up alone the following morning to preserve appearances. Very sordid, although the penny never dropped for Meg. Still she got what she wanted. Marriage to a good-looking rich nobleman. Unfortunately the humiliations and general disrespect made it all seem decidedly unromantic to this reader. It's no big deal to marry a pig.
btw. There is no such word as 'shined.' The past tense of 'shine' is 'shone.' Anyone who's ever sung hymns knows that.
Very poor overall.