The best-laid plans...Penelope Bransom had learned how thoroughly unpleasant love could be during her brief marriage. She was little more than a girl when wed, and by the time her husband's death released her she was a young woman determined never to be ensnared by a man again. Handsome, dashing Lord Charles Mortimer had more adoration than he could possibly want as England's greatest hero and as the favorite of London's most ravishing lady, the beautiful, blue-blooded Georgina Staverton. Clearly Lord Mortimer could have no interest in the retiring Penelope. Clearly Penelope had no fear of ties to this man whose realm of pleasure was a world away from her quiet, sensible life. Then they were thrown together, and suddenly nothing was clear except certain feelings that both of them did not dare admit and that neither could ignore.Lord Mortimer and Penelope Bransom first meet when she is in the park trying to save a young girl from her abusive father. He walks her home but they separate without knowing much of each other. They do meet again in society in the following days and we start to know more about them. Charles, Lord Mortimer had fallen in love a few years before with a woman who eventually married another, richer, man and now that he is returned to society titled and rich he hasn’t been able to refuse her and they’ve been having an affair. Penelope is a widow, everyone believes she loved and now mourns her husband but the truth is that she was abused by a cruel husband and now supports his illegitimate children.
The more they see each other the more they are attracted to one another but Penelope believes Charles to be far above her and he thinks she still has feelings for her husband. The perfect opportunity for them to reveal their feelings comes when they meet at an Inn and have a passionate affair. They go their separate ways promising to meet a few days later but Charles never shows up and Penelope believes he has gone back to his former mistress.
Brown conveys emotions perfectly. We feel Penelope's desperation and disappointment in Charles, her surprise at the unexpected development and how hard it is for her to find a solution to her problem. It seems a long time till the finally meet again. When Charles finally reveals what happened it seems too late to guarantee a happy ending as other people have become involved in their affairs. Fans of emotional angst wont fail to appreciate this story.