Summer is American that grew up in Tombstone Arizona, where she learned to shoot, and fight, but not schooled in the ways of a lady. Her father uprooted herself and her friend Maria to New York so he could continue investing in railroads and such. New York did not welcome her odd, uncivilized ways. All, except for Monte, who she is engaged too. Although Summer is very wealthy, Monte's family does not accept that she is not a proper lady. So Summer Wine Lee has traveled to London and hired the Duke of Monchester, otherwise known as Byron to make her into a Lady so she can be presented to the Queen and go back to the states to marry Monte and make his family happy.
Byron is an impoverished Duke, he owns properly but they are quite ill maintained. He keeps his status and elite position in London by being Prince Albert's eyes and ears in society. He collects embarrassing or funny stories about London's elite and shares these stories with the prince to amuse him. Byron abhors American women who come to London title hunting. He is quick to offend and shock Summer and Maria. But Summer sees this as a golden opportunity - no sidestepping or manners to get in the way of shaping her up quickly to become a lady. His brash manner and shocking talk does nothing to embarrass her, much to the shock of Byron.
Byron is given an offer he can't very well refuse. Summer offers him a hefty investment in the railroad she owns. Byron would be free of selling himself out to the prince, he would be able to live the life he wants, and not have to collect the silly stories that hurts others. Byron finds that Summer is not your everyday girl looking for a title. She carries a knife on herself, she is never one to be embarrassed - she is quite the match for Byron. The more time they spend together, the more the romance blooms.
I've gone back and forth in my head with My Unfair Lady. It is a cute premise for a book, but there were so many times I stopped reading because Summer or Byron did or thought something that just did not connect with me.
At the beginning of the book, Byron makes such a big deal about the amount of work he is going to have to do to get Summer ready but then two weeks are skipped and we don't get to read any of his "preparations". That is not to say she is a perfect lady by the time those two weeks are over, and I actually liked the fact that she stays true to who she is. However I think the story would have benefited by seeing how he transformed her those two weeks.
As the romance starts to develop between these two, I felt Summer lost her feelings for Monte way too easily. She travels all the way to London to be put at the grace of a Duke who humiliates people for a living, and I don't think we saw her struggle with her feelings for Monte as she should have. After Byron and Summer give into temptation and he pleasures her and Byron wants to continue with intercourse, this conversation follows:
"I mean I can't," she took a deep breath, "make love to you."
[...] "I've already made love to you, my American girl. What we do now is rather anti-climatic, don't you think?"
Summer blinked. He looked so beautiful in gaslight. "Yes, no, I mean, I gave my word to another man. I have to uphold that vow until and unless he releases me."
His hands started sliding down her arms. "Too late," he murmured.
"No, it's not. I haven't betrayed him completely."
And then she proceeds to pleasure him. I get that if she is falling in love with Byron, and Monte is all the way in the States, she just can't call and say hey - it's over between us. But at this point in the story, she still has intentions to marry Monte, and I'm sorry but what she did with Byron is betraying Monte. A few pages later, Summer does have a revelation and admits to herself she had betrayed Monte and then she decides to "stop these feelings she had for the duke. Thank goodness she hadn't done anything that she couldn't undo." Which, as I take it, means since she didn't have intercourse, she didn't have to worry about a baby. But then soon after she does have sex with him and afterwards she thinks this:
"Stop it," she whispered firmly to herself, "We're finished." Wasn't that the whole point of their encounter today, to end this longing for him? Or did it go deeper than that?
Summer winced. It didn't matter, anyway. She'd made a promise to another man, and it would take more than one steamy afternoon to break it.
The back and forth, wishy-washy feelings made Summer an unlikable heroine in my opinion. I did enjoy Byron - cold hearted, quick with his tongue, not necessarily a nice person all the time. Someone is out to murder him and Summer and Byron must deal with the danger of the unknown always lurking about. Summer's friend, Maria, who is not shy at all about the way she acts is a cute addition to the story. If I could have reconciled myself to Summer, I would have enjoyed this book much more.