There were several problems here. Firstly, the plot seemed to be crammed in between the scenes where the two leads interacted with each other, which impacted badly on the pace of the story. That's before we get to the improbability of the storyline. That aside, however, the lead characters seemed like caricatures which naive Americans dream up when they think of Austenian England: a hero who acts the part of the debauched rake while secretly performing as a sort of 19th century James Bond for the honour of king and country. A heroine, a traditional English rose, naturally, who accepts that her hero is not as bad as she imagined him to be in less time than it takes to pour herself a cup of tea. Really, I'm not joking about that part. Nor am I joking about the intention of the heroine to seek out a job as a governess- an ambition which is not explained at all. Was she passionately dedicated to education? Desperately seeking a forbidden adventure? Going on the run from her family? In dire need of pin money? An author in desperate need of a plot device which would allow his hero to interfere in the heroine's choice of future employer? The surrounding cast of characters were not remotely believable, especially our heroine's rather bitchy step-sister who, at the beginning of the novel is caught in a clinch with our hero whilst newly engaged to some other terribly nice titled chap. Yet it seems to be a different girl entirely later in the story, when the heroine talks with her about their past and their family life together.
I know that the majority of novels in this genre follow the worn path of the lady and the reformed rake, and the misunderstanding/terrible secret which keeps them apart. This novella is a pretty poor attempt to weave a decent narrative with an engaging love story. The abundance of Americanisms in the characters' speech is annoying (crossing the creek?); are there no copy editors in publishing companies these days? Things like this are not so very difficult to root out and correct. The flow of the text at times also had me reading the same passage over a few times in order to understand what the author was attempting to explain.
Perhaps it's problem was that it was too short for what the author could have done with the story, had there been a higher word limit. Conversely, at least it was short enough in its present form to be dispensed with quickly.