I wasn't too sure about this book when I started it. Lillian Mayhew is visiting the new Duke of Billingham, Simon Crathorne, with her friend Lady Gabriela. Lillian is there with the sole purpose of extracting revenge against Simon but her hatred is really directed to his late father. The previous duke had done a horrible act against Lillians mother which caused her to commit suicide. As she heard her dying fathers wish to seek revenge, though this was said to her brother, not her, Lillian sets out to diminish the late dukes perfect, honored reputation any way she can. But as she arrives and is greeted by the most handsome man, she is thrown for a loop when he introduces himself as Simon.
As the sparks fly between Simon and Lillian, and everyone from Simons mother to best friend, Rhys, tell him that this is a match that can never happen (the scandal of the suicide, she has no money!), Lillian keeps feeling drawn to him and him to her. The real turning point, for me, to make this book a good read was when Simons discovers the secrets of his late father. They are some major secrets that have been hidden his entire life. They transform this dashing man into a devastated, humble man and made me really love him. Throughout all this, Lillian is by his side but still never revealing her secret. When she finally, finally, reveals her true reason for being there, Simon is heartbroken but chooses to stay with her. Lillian flees back home for a bit until we get the happily ever after.
Even though the first half or so was just ok, the second half was excellent. It has heartbreak, sorrow, love, joy. It will make you tear up, smile, and want to smack Lillian. The epilogue leads right up to the next story, The Unclaimed Duchess (Billingham Bastards, #2) and I have started it already as I was so intrigued to continue with this story and see all the fall outs waiting to happen. I hope there is more to come in this series. 4 stars