This story was the first book that Julia Quinn wrote and is the first of the Blydon trilogy.
Emma Dunster is an American heiress who has no interest in marriage. All Emma wants is to get over the season she was forced to have and get back to Boston and manage her father's shipping company. The girl does not lack charm, beauty and a huge dowry which makes her a prim candidate to all those seeking a wife.
Alexander Ridgely, Duke of Ashbourne has vowed to never marry, but his family is ruthless in their endeavors to get him hitched. When a house maid saves his nephew from being crushed by a hackney he finds himself enchanted by the wench. After a searing kiss, he returns the maid to the Blydon household where he thinks she works. That evening he goes to a ball thrown in Emma's honor in hopes of seeing the housemaid that he kissed. We can safely say he is bit surprised to find the housemaid as the guest of honor.
Thus starts a truly fun friendship between these two very frank (and funny) characters. Alex finds himself attending all the festivities of the season and Emma finds herself falling for the duke even though she knows that to marry him she would have to renounce her life back in Boston.
Alex also finds himself caving in when it comes to his vow of bachelorhood, especially since Emma has money up the wazzo so he does not fear she would marry him for his fortune. Also, she has no interest in titles but instead wishes to return to Boston to manage her father's business. So, if she would accept him, he feels confident it would be for him and not for the things he represented.
There are a few misunderstandings on the way to the altar, like when Emma proposes and says she did it because she needed money (to help her cousin). I think Alex's reaction was a bit harsh but I liked that it didn't take chapters upon chapters to resolve. Although the book was entertaining until the end, I think we could have skipped the last 50 pages or so and still enjoyed the book just as much. Anyway, this one was a treat!