George, Lord Darton needs a bride of utter propriety. Athenia needs a husband because of her own folly. Circumstances throw them together and need drives this marriage of convenience. And yet, when it’s least expected, the two discover love isn’t so impossible, after all—and Lord Darton’s brothers discover how badly they’ve misjudged their eldest brother and his wife, all these years.
One could say it's propriety meets utter folly. Here is a taste of HLTT:
. . . Athenia looked at each of them in turn. “What I say must never leave this room. No one outside this group must ever know the truth. Everyone else must continue to believe George and I are the prim and priggish couple we are accounted to be. Do I have your word?”
Only when each of the brothers and their wives had given it did she go on. She had a faraway look in her eyes as she said, “Your brother, Lord Darton, believed the only way to retrieve the family reputation was to marry a young lady of unexceptionable background, breeding and behavior. It was the only way he could think to guarantee that as you grew older, each of you would be accepted and have a future among the ton. It’s why he has always been so strict about your behavior. He worried that otherwise you might be tarred with the same brush as your parents. The only solution, he felt, was to marry and marry well and marry as quickly as he could.”
She paused. Yes, they began to look properly chastened as her words sank in. With a tiny spark of satisfaction, she went on, her voice softening as she did so.
“As you know, he meant to marry Lord Carrington’s daughter. Indeed, I think he was more than half in love with her. It was only when he asked for her hand in marriage that he found out how bad things really were. I do believe the harshness of that refusal sent him into a kind of shock. The rest of what followed was a result of my folly. Yes, folly. I know you find that difficult to believe, but it is precisely because I was so foolish, and because of what it cost both of us, that I understand why your brother has been so adamant, over the years, about how we must behave and the risk to all of you if he could not curb your follies! Looking back, I still cannot believe how foolish and naive I was and even a lifetime will not suffice for me to repay your brother’s kindness in rescuing me.”
She paused, took a deep breath and said, “This is how it all began.” . . .