Usually, an asshat hero is the kiss of death for any book, as far as I'm concerned. But somehow, this book managed to worm its way into my good graces despite the utter idiocy of its male lead for nearly half the story.
Gabriel, the Earl of Ashcombe, was understandably angry when forced to marry a woman his brother jilted at the altar. In fact, he was sure Talia's father planned it all that way from the beginning. And really, who would believe that Talia was ignorant of the whole plot? So he treated her with the disdain that he thought was her due. He wed her... proceeded to bed her... then sent her off to his country estate to live without him.
The thing is, Talia really was innocent. Which makes Gabriel a douche. A big, big douche. But things aren't so bad for Talia when she moves to the country. She connects with the people there and is becoming quite happy... until she is kidnapped by the French. Once his wife goes missing, Gabriel is on a mission to rescue her. When they face down the French together, they begin to grow closer. And in a rather quick about-face, Gabriel begins to truly fall for his wife.
Talia starts off as kind of mousy, but she really grows into her own over the course of the book. Her strength and tenacity is what allowed me to come around after Gabriel so thoroughly turned me off. There is, however, a little problem with believability that this unwanted woman has become so desirable and crafty in the face of danger. But at least she didn't stay a doormat.
The sex scenes were really good, though. And they were plentiful, which was a definite plus. I really quite enjoyed the second half, with the exception of Gabriel's thick-headed blunder toward the end. In addition to hot bedroom action, there was some fairly good intrigue, and some interesting secondary characters like Jacques and Hugo (who has the perfect set-up for his own book.) I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. 4 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley