I can't remember when I first heard about this book, but I think it was one of the Smart Bitches "Help a Bitch Out" posts a while back. I then put it on my wish list at Paperback Swap and received it a few weeks ago.
The hero at the center of the story is Edward Greyson, an extremely tortured hero that could teach other romance heroes a thing or two about the real meaning of "tortured hero". He is a drunk, wallowing in the pain of the tragic death of his first wife, Diana. His sister, fed up with being the social pariah of colonial Virginia, tells him that he has to find himself a wife. He does, and does he show her! He saves a tavern wench from a beating and marries her. He brings her back to his spectacular house, thinking to leave her to work in the kitchens, because he has no intention of truly making her his wife.
The sister, Catherine, irritated that he brought home a dirty, bedraggled girl, intends to call his bluff. She takes Jennifer in hand with the intent of making her into a proper Virginia lady. Jennifer, despite having a less than spectacular upbringing, proves to be intelligent and more than up to the task, especially since she has fallen in love with Grey. She knows he's a surly drunk, but after reading letters he sent to his first wife, she senses that there's something more underneath the gruff exterior.
The strength of the book is its pacing. It unfolds over the period of one year, realistically allowing Jennifer to bloom into her own as well as describing the pitfalls in the relationship she wishes to have with Grey. Grey is very mercurial, mostly because he wishes to hold on to the memories of his dead wife while finding himself attracted to his new wife.
The book is well-written, the pacing is good, and the character growth is excellent. The internal dialog of the characters is not overdone. She did her historical research without dumping it into the book. (There is one delightful cameo by a young Thomas Jefferson who can't hold his ale!) The one thing that stuck at me, though, was the constant switch in point of view. One minute the reader is in Jennifer's head, while in the next the reader is in Grey's. That is a minor quibble, though, when placed next to the good qualities of the book.
My grade? A.