On June 1788 at Dorset House on the Earl of Wellbourne estate, Lady Margaret Mary Teresa “Tessa” Astley, 16 years old, falls in love with a very rakish Jered Mandeville – 10th Duke of Kittridge, when he stole a kiss from her. Three years later, she wed him but it's only a marriage of convenience especially on Jered's side. She agrees to producesan heir and lives at Kittridge and stays there while Jered continues to live his rakish ways in London. However, after hearing gossip from people living in her new home, she leaves for London after her husband who callously deserts her the day after their wedding. She seems to appear everywhere he goes. She becomes bold, courageous and brazen as a duchess. She introduces herself to his mistress courteously in public. She starts a campaign to win his heart by refusing to go back to Kittridge. A battle of wills begins between them. She almost has their arguments in public places and later on, she goes to his mistress' home, trying to find him and he finds her there drunk, talking to his mistress. She pops up while he robs his own gold from his carriage as a highwayman.
Jered repeatedly humiliates her and emotionally hurts her. Trying to drive her back to Kittridge and get his usual lifestyle back, he flaunts and kisses women in her presence and gambles the money she suggested he give to the wounded soldiers they had past. One night, he emotionally hurts her so much and she thinks that he will never love her – she jumps from the moving carriage and runs and hides in a cemetery to which she steps on a spring gun hidden in a grave and gets shot in the chest. Right after it happened she was found by Jered's driver, she was taken home and her parents immediately sent for their doctor but she refused to see Jered after the way he treated her. Her parents steps in, when they found out how and where she was hurt and prevents him from seeing his wife as she heals both physically and emotionally. He goes to see her and her mother, furious and hating him of what he did to his daughter, shows the scars of gunshot wound and the resulting operation that save her life. Feeling guilt and other emotions, he leaves Kittridge and reflects his past and present life. He starts to change to a better person. He later, kidnaps her after she had healed under her parents' noses and tries to take her to Scotland on one of his new ships to visit his mother's relatives. Tessa starts to see he's changed but he hasn't told everything about his past to why he acts the way he does.
However, the ship never makes it to Scotland because it becomes shipwrecked due to his own stupidity and arrogant decision to get ahead of the storm. The storm catches up to them and Jered's decisive plan of action saves them but he gets injured when he gets knocked overboard. Tessa nurses him back to health but he seems to revert back to pushing her away again when she gets too close. Perhaps she might be able to convince the cynical and callous duke to feel again and perhaps fall in love with her.
This report prepared by Susannah Spurr