Isabella does not want to get married, and frustrates he parents by turning down every proposal until they insist on arranging a marriage for her. Isabella developed a disgust of men in general and sex in particular when she witnessed a drunken orgy in a post house as a young girl, and this has made her determined not to marry. She is beautiful and well brought up, so has a lot of proposals at each of the seasons she attends, but always turns them down, and has got a reputation as a heartless flirt because of this.
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Her parents have always indulged her, but finally tire of her behavior and arrange a marriage to the son of their friends and neighbors who are titled but poor. Lord Harry is in the army at the time the betrothal is arranged, and arrives home to overhear Isabella talking out of context about her dislike of men, and adding this to her reputation he decides she is spoiled and uppity and determines to tease her.
Lord Harry behaves terribly, insulting Isabella's style of dress, painting his face and adopting an effeminate manner. However, Isabella is obedient to her parents' wishes, and does not break the engagement; even though she dislikes Lord Harry and dreads the marriage bed she takes solace in the knowledge that he will be called back to the war.
Meanwhile one of the gentlemen that proposed to Isabella and was turned down was very angry at the snub, Lord Rupert, wants to get revenge on her. He attacks her on a country lane, but Lord Harry arrives in the nick of time and sees him off.
Lord Harry returns to the army, and Isabella and her parents travel to London to introduce Harry's younger sister, Lucy to the little season and get her started in society. Meanwhile, Harry's parents find the family diamonds which had been hidden by the previous earl in his dotage, and so there is no need for Lord Harry to marry Isabella as his family no longer need the money.
The evil Lord Rupert is courting Isabella in Lord Harry's absence, cleverly making her feel safe in a plan to get his revenge on her. Harry returns from the war, and continues to play the fop and fool, not breaking his engagement to Isabella even though there is no longer any need for him to marry; he has not yet realized that he has fallen in love with her.
Isabella becomes increasingly horrified at the thought of marriage to Lord Harry, and evil Lord Rupert eventually manages to persuade her to run away and marry him, promising a sex free escape from Lord Harry. Isabella finally agrees, but Lord Harry learns of the dastardly plot and rescues Isabella just as the evil Lord Rupert is about to rape her.
Isabella confesses all her fears to Lord Harry, and he realizes that she is not cold but merely scared. He confesses that he has been playing a role, and kisses her, asking her to marry him because he loves her. She is aroused by his kisses and agrees to marry him, realizing sex is not always like the scene she witnessed as a young girl.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like the relationship between Isabella's parents, and the way they dote on her
Best scene in story:
I love the scene at the ball where the family diamonds are found in the chandelier
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Isabella, it was sometimes hard to understand why she did not just explain her fears, but it is in keeping with the time that the story is set.