Rose is from Miss Eva Black's School and has now "graduated" by marrying a baron's second son. She lived as a duke's mistress for four years and, despite Miss Eva's tutelage, has fears about her former life intruding into her present life.
Rose knows she is fortunate to have married well and she's determined not to mess things up with Thomas. She's determined to be "the perfect wife" and she thinks it means tamping down her natural passions.
From the beginning, Thomas has made it clear that he does not care about Rose's past -- only their present and their future together. When Rose makes the very bold statement that she will never love him, it challenges Thomas to issue a bolder statement -- that they will fall in love with each other.
This story starts off where whirlwind romances usually start: a bride comes home to meet her husband's family -- there is always a mother who is displeased with the suddenness of the marriage and there is always a battle for control of the household.
But Cheryl Ann Smith puts a fresh spin on that familiar story because the bride in question is a former courtesan who has a lot more to overcome. The Baroness Linley is not pleased with her younger son's sudden marriage and she is determined to bend Rose to her will, as she has done with Thomas's sisters, but Rose possesses a stronger mettle, having had to make her own way from a very young age. Her lessons at Miss Eva's school have taught her restrain and she is trying to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation -- and does a little matchmaking of her own in the process.
The development of the relationship between Rose and Thomas makes for a very compelling read. They had a quick courtship and still have a lot to discover about each other -- but I loved Thomas's devotion to Rose and his steadfast belief that her past doesn't matter to him.
But how does on separate two parts of the same self? It is at the heart of Rose's predicament and the problem comes to the fore on their wedding night, when Rose finds herself reacting improperly to Thomas's lovemaking.
Confusion welled in her mind. She wanted to express her desire but did not want to appear wanton and disappoint Thomas. Everyone knew that wives were not expected to find pleasure in the bedroom. They were meant to please their men.
- p. 23
How our hero and heroine work to allay their worries and fix their relationship is very endearing and heartwarming. One can't help but cheer for both of them because they truly deserve their happy ending.
This e-novella is part of Cheryl Ann Smith's The School for Brides series. To find out more about the author and her works, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.