Heroine confesses to rake-turned-recluse Duke that she is the masked lover he's been having a secret rendezvous with. Hero is upset with her confession because he knew her identity & preferred that they keep engaging in their pretense. This way he's not openly breaking his promise to her now-deceased father to not touch her. As much as they care for each other, Hero thinks marrying her is a bad idea. He doesn't want to damage her already-shaky reputation with his formerly disreputable past. But heroine is as determined to prove him wrong.
I enjoyed this Smith book. It was well-written & well-paced. There's a lot of depth to Hero & heroine & their romance. Hero is a true reformed rake. He was an admittedly wicked womanizer who treated the countless women he slept with without honor or respect. He was deeply ashamed about his past & was in a way punishing himself for it in the present. He became a recluse out of shame & fear of regressing. He also became a self-sacrificing, disciplined, & caring man who's willing to surrender his happiness for heroine's sake. Heroine had inner strength & loved without grudges. She was not a doormat by any means. She loved Hero but was not willing to give up her life & hide from society like him. She knew it would eventually ruin their marriage. I liked how she faced problems directly & wisely & didn't run from them.
Emotional pull of book was great. There were poignant, angtsy, & tender moments. Sexual chemistry & sex scenes were erotic & well-detailed.
I definitely recommend this book.