The Substitute Bridegroom - Jeanne Abbott

Cute. Complicated, but cute. I mean; it reads pretty straight forward but the behind the scenes stuff is a complicated mess.

 

So ok, our h, 2 months out from her 21st birthday whereupon she would take the reins for half her family spice company, is being pressured to marry by her uncle. She doesn't want to marry the lout. Uncle somehow manages to get a box at the theater, and after a time, she develops a headache. Lout offers to take her home and for whatever reason, she doesn't refuse. Lout actually took her somewhere with every intention of forcing himself on her. Stranger rescues her, and returns her to her home, thinking she's an actress. Uncle seizes opportunity and presses the issue with marriage. Her cousin, not the brightest candle in the room, decides to help her by putting an advertisement in one of the papers. She succeeds, arrangements are made, and...

 

Our H, rake apparently, who seems determined to blow through his finances for some ungodly reason, is being pressured by the family matriarch to marry. Since she is in possession of all the family funds, her threat to write him out of her will if he doesn't isn't one to be ignored. While dealing with this news, he stumbles across a woman being accosted, beats her attacker, and takes her home, under the assumption she's an actress (cough). After a number of refusals from various eligible women or their families, he's bummed. His best buddy stumbles across the advertisement, and arrangements are made...

They don't figure out who each other is until after vows are exchanged. He takes her to the family pile where an old friend of hers works. Shortly after their arrival, several attempts are made against him. He assumes it's the friend as the friend really really likes her...or that was his impression at least. Then again, at times the h is very naive.

 

Then their carriage is attacked by highwaymen who a) attempt to kill him (unsuccessfully), and kidnap her (successfully). Naturally, it turns out to be her uncle and the erstwhile intended. Of course, through a comedy of errors... the cousin goes to the maid, who hides her in their quarters and gets the coachman to go to the H's townhouse where, possibly due to the maid being drunk, and the cousin being hysterical, he is under the impression the h IS and wishes her to come with him to reassure her cousin. The H goes off to rescue the h, and is successful. The uncle falls down the stairs in the confrontation, it's revealed that the would-be intended was actually the result of the uncle raping some woman, that the uncle had caused the accident that killed the h's parents, and likely had killed someone else involved in a dual by shooting them in the back. Oh, and his wife was more than happy to have his death declared an accident because she hated him.