Trapped by misunderstanding and circumstance, scandal-plagued Penelope has no choice but to marry and follow her cad of a husband back to his new administrative post in India. She hopes being thrown together in the middle of a foreign country will give them a chance to salvage some happiness, but reality doesn't look to be granting her even that small comfort as he routinely abandons her for the card table and leaves her to fend for herself in an unfamiliar world of complicated--and often dangerous--politics. Luckily, she has the unwilling company of their escort, Captain Reid, a no-nonsense soldier who doesn't care about her sullied reputation, doesn't cow-tow before power, and who may or may not be trying to kill her husband and sell out the English to the Indians and / or the French.
Willig moves all the action to India this volume, which is a pleasant diversion. The history of England's colonial involvement in the country is less familiar territory for me and so an interesting addition to the slightly-more-scandalous-than-usual-for-the-series romance. I don't know why I expect my romance novels to not be "romance novels," but I'm still disappointed when they fall into well-worn, too-easy patterns that sacrifice character development and emotional involvement for awkward, obligatory racy bits (mind you, I in no way mind the racy bits, as long as they fit who and when and where I think they should). It's sad when formerly interesting personalities are suddenly unceremoniously forced into boring molds in which they don't fit and from which they emerge less than they were before. I'm still enjoying the series, and I still like many aspects of the genre (witty repartee and guaranteed happy endings being two of them), but sometimes I get a little cranky and snooty and wish things could just be nudged into being a little more. Ah, well. I'm still happily putting myself on hold for the next one, so it mustn't bother me enough to put me off them all together. And yet. *sigh*