Verity met Max on the worst night of her life and she remembered his kindness, but when they meet again, he takes her as a servant, invites her to be his mistress and then is angered when he realizes she is not a servant and he must marry her because they slept together. When Verity Scott first met Max, she was just 15 years old and her father was being buried. She watched his body being transported and at first disliked both men, until she realized that Max was doing what he could for her father, including a prayer over the grave, despite his orders. Having lost her mother years before, she was an orphan now and destitute as well.
She waited for them to leave and as she approached the grave, was spotted by Max, who thought she was a grave robber. When he realized the situation, he sat with her while she buried a bulb of flowers at the grave, in hopes of it blooming later and serving as a marker if she were able to return. He then took her home and stayed there to protect her, while waiting for her next of kin to arrive. When they separated, there was no reason to believe they would ever see one another again…until they did, years later. However, it is clear that Max knew her father and that Max was not well-liked in society.
When the two meet again, several years later, she is essentially an abused servant in her uncle's home known as Selina and he does not recognize her. He is now Lord Blakehurst and after she is almost sexually assaulted by her cousin, he saves her. After he realizes the almost impossible situation she is in, he offers her a unique solution to her immediate problems. If she leaves with him to become his mistress, he will support her. There is an undeniable spark between the two and she has thought of him many times since the day they met, but she has no interest in exchanging one bad situation for another and give away her virtue at the same time.
When she comes to him the night before he is to leave the area, he has been drinking and she has been in love with him for years. He thinks she lost her virginity years before and the two make love. He is horrified to realize she was a virgin, the only daughter of a man he greatly respected and he informs her they will now wed. He feels betrayed, assuming she trapped him into intimacy knowing he would then have to marry her, but at the same time has romantic feelings for her as well.
They argue repeatedly, he insults her, she is nervous but spunky and finally they marry, although they are not happy about doing so. After marrying, they return to his home, where he continues to blame her for the marriage, the sex and to some extent, even the fact that he is still so attracted to her. As they spend more time together, he realizes that she is a good person, although there are still some episodes of verbal abuse.
However, they eventually decided to stay together, despite how they started and he was very clear throughout the latter half of the book that she would not leave him, she was his. It is important to note that at that time, she literally did belong to him and she has no rights.
In an odd way, it was not much better of a situation than the one she left, except she was only being seduced and then verbally abused, as opposed to avoiding rape. She meets some of his very unlikable family members and unfortunately, a woman with whom he used to be in a relationship. She feels used, he feels betrayed and they fight a lot. Periodically, eh will be nice and inspire hope in her, only to be worse the next time. Somehow, they both figure out they are in love and as the novel ends, we are to believe it is a happily ever after ending for them.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the first half, Verity is spunky and energetic and smart, while Max was an interesting character. Halfway through the book,she lost her personality, he lost his honor and they both became people I didn't like. I find it almost impossible to like a character who is abusive and he was constantly putting her down, insulting her and making her feel bad. I felt bad for her, because her life was awful and they may have been in love, but it came off like apathy and some passion.
Best scene in story:
Before he knew she was Verity and thought she was the servant Selina, they were making out and the descriptions were very well-done. It did make me wonder why he thought that a woman with so little experience with intimacy was not a virgin and therefore "safe" for being a mistress, but the scene itself was well-done.
Opinion about the main character:
I think that Verity survived a lot in her life, the death of both parents, arriving at her uncle's home and being treatedd worse than the servants for no pay and dodging her cousin's sexual interest, so at first I liked her. Perhaps those abilities were linked with her virginity somehow, because as soon as that was gone, her personality changed and she became someone who was shy and didn't stand up for herself.