I always wonder what her titles are supposed to mean - so often they seem to have little to do with the actual story (or maybe I just don't get it!). Anyway, this is a nice story with a touch of mistaken identity farce and a nice relationship between Chase and Harriet. But I found it slow and lacking in sustained passionate attraction. Though I liked the development of their relationship from wary opponents to comrades to lovers, it happens quite slowly and no real hot stuff occurs until about 200 pages in.
Chase St John has decided to leave London before he can shame his family with his recent dissolute behaviour under the influence of his so-called friend Harry Annesley. One incident in particular haunts Chase and is a source of tremendous shame and guilt of which he cannot absolve himself (causing another's death is unforgivable, afterall). On the road to Dover and a ship waiting to take him to Italy, he is set upon by footpads and left for dead. He is discovered by Miss Harriet Ward and her sisters and awakes in their home with a wound to his head. Not wanting his identity known, Chase pretends amnesia, which Harriet doubts. He seems awfully content for a man who remembers nothing!
Harriet and family have one last payment to make on the mortgage and Garrett Park will truly be theirs. But to keep the bank at bay until the sheep are sheared and the wool sold, Harriet's mother invented a fiancé for Harriet - a dark haired, blue eyed sea captain who is due to return any day with a hold full of booty and lots of money. So far this stall tactic has worked, but there is one banker who is not buying the story and wants to force payment. When Mr. Gower shows up, Mrs. Ward strikes again, telling the dark haired, blue eyed Chase that he is the fictitious Capt. Frakenham come to save the day! Chase decides to play along much to Harriet's discomfort!
From there we watch with amusement as Harriet tries to trip up Chase into revealing who he really is and Chase tries to get Harriet to admit that Capt. Frakenham doesn't exist. When they expect Chase to assist in the sheep shearing this masquerade has gone way too far - he's a St John for heaven's sake! But in order to stay in character he pulls his own weight, works harder than he has in all his life and comes to admire the Ward family. Harriet helps him to see that maybe running away is not the right thing to do, but has he the strength to face his family with his misdeeds? And he and Harriet are becoming very attracted to each other. He longs to take her burdens off her shoulders and give her all the things she needs and deserves. But what can London rogue Chase St John offer a country girl like Harriet Ward except trouble and heartache?
Then there are the blackmail and murder attempts, villains to expose and, of course, the set-up for Devon's story THE BRIDE WORE PLAID coming May '04. All in all an okay story just lacking some of the sizzle of some of her other stories.