Nell Whitby has spent most of her life knowing only of despair and hardship. She spends her days working in a tobacco factory trying to come up with enough money to help her ailing mother and to keep food on the table. Her stepbrother, Michael, taunts her with the prospect of becoming a prostitute to pay the bills or he will beat her within an inch of her life. In a moment of clarity, her dying mother tells her of an affair and that she is related to Earl Rushden. Nell knows that she has an uncanny resemblance to Lady Kathryn Aubyn, daughter of Earl Rushden, but strikes it up as coincidence. She decides to come up with a plan to ambush the Earl for money to help pay for her mother's medical bills and help start a new life for Nell away from the slums.
Nell breaks into the Earl's residence and ends up pointing her pistol at the new Earl, Simon St. Maur. Devilishly handsome and broke, Simon sees Nell as a great opportunity. Lady Kathryn has a twin that has been missing since childhood and he believes that the missing twin has just dropped onto his doorstep. He makes a proposition to Nell that he will give her anything that her heart desires; she just has to marry him in the process. Nell agrees and Simon starts the impossible task of turning a young girl from the slums into a refined lady. Easier said than done and Nell fights him every step of the way. The two become closer with each new day and Simon may get more than he bargained for because he is falling in love with the beautiful feisty young woman.
I really enjoyed this story. It reminded a lot of "My Fair Lady" where he was trying to turn Nell into a princess when she only thought society was just a waste of time. Nell was a delightful character whose intelligence and street smarts had you rooting for her to be the true Lady Cornelia throughout the story. This is one of my favorite novels this year and I'm looking forward to reading more by Meredith Duran.
IN GRITTY, WORKING-CLASS LONDON, SHE DOES WHAT SHE MUST TO SURVIVE . . .
When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl’s house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he’s a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he’ll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.
A NOTORIOUS LADIES’ MAN COULD TAKE HER FROM POVERTY TO OPULENCE . . . BUT AT WHAT PRICE?
A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love. . . .