Don't let the critical review turn you off. At first, after having read it, i was turned off, too, but after reading another of the author's books which I liked, i read this one and wasn't disappointed. The hero and heroine were admirable, there was good romance, there was a good stories(actually 2 or 3, romances and mystery, and action). I found quite a bit of sexual tension between Tony and Felicity. Even though it's nobody's fault because it was a rare misunderstanding that Tony was so seriously wounded that he bled over Felicity's letter, it's understandable Felicity won't accept Tony's excuse because she has to put up with all the consequences of pregnancy in a rigid society. This is understood by the fact that there are references to Felicity's husband's cruelty such as beating her and "decimating her" and when she tried to please him by increasing his business's profits, he didn't care. Yeah, the author could be more gruesome and graphic, but we as readers want to see a romance, not a history of physical abuse by the husband. And, of course, the husband would leave the inheritance to Felicity's son--why would her husband want to let society know that she had "cuckolded" him? It's just as damaging being viewed as a "weak man" who can't control his wife as being a "scarlet woman" who's given birth out of wedlock.
As for Felicity's fear of being dominated, this is understandable based on her marriage to her husband. Tony was tender to her and would never hurt her but when she married her husband, obviously he was not. You don't get over that easily after being with violent, mean men. And many men can be nice and polite in public but when the doors close, they can be selfishly brutal and in those days before women's rights, a man could beat and nearly kill his wife and that wouldn't be against the law. After her husband died, Felicity ran his businesses herself quite successfully and enjoyed the freedom of independence and security women in those days seldom had.
This is a pattern with the author (read the author's "A Midnight Clear") and i think the author's trying to convey the reality of women's non-rights in those days. It didn't stop me from enjoying her books but actually liking them because obviously just because you marry doesn't mean it's going to be happy, not unless you have the RIGHT man, and finding the RIGHT MAN is standard in ANY romance story. And to actually have heroines who KNOW HOW TO RUN SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES AND MAKE PROFITS TO BE INDEPENDENT instead of just dying in poverty, crying all day for the hero is a refreshing change in today's romance stories.
I detest romance stories where the author makes the heroine out in the beginning as a strong heroine (like a businesswoman yet) she fails miserably at everything (like a businesswoman heroine failing to run a successful business) so that she'll look vulnerable and "worthy" of protection by the hero so that the hero can ride in and "rescue" her. Obviously, Ms. King doesn't fall into this category of detestable romance authors who will do anything to make their heroines look so much more stupid and therefore "worthy" of and in dire need of attention and protection by the hero. Not all heroines need to be stupid and fail at everything in order to get their hero. Obviously, if our society was so much like this that women failed at everything or nearly everything, how would we have women senators, women judges, women police, women soldiers, women firefighters, etc?? Even in those days before women's rights, there were strong women, women who attracted the attention of worthy admirable men. The heroine in this book doesn't need the hero as in other well-written romances because she is truly independent, yet she still feels the need for romance.