This is apparently the 2nd out a series of four (?) books about young men determined not to marry. They have some sort of bet between the four of them as to whom will marry last. I did not read the first book, but after reading this one will certainly go out and find it!
Felicity Melville is a young woman of good family, she has been "out" in society for 7 seasons, which is apparently a lot, but has no desire to "catch a suitable husband"; she wants to marry for love. Astronomy is her hobby, and one night she is out on her balcony looking at the stars and hears a commotion from the house next door - a husband yellling at his wife. She turns her telescope and sees a man climbing out of the window! She is wondering if it is a burglar or if someone was seducing the wife, and she realizes she can no longer see the man. She realizes he's in her garden! He looks up at her and asks if it's safe to leave, she starts to question him as to whether he's a burglar, and then give him directions to the street. Her directions are confusing, so he climbs up to her balcony to get a view of the path to the street. He then climbs back down and loses a shoe in her trellis.
Felicity makes some inquiries and learns the man in question is Nigel Cavendish. Nigel is a from a well-to-do family and has a reputation as quite the rogue. He has a long history of scandalous behavior with married women and widows. Felicity decides she is going to marry him. Nigel finds himself attracted to her but has no desire to marry and tells her so in no uncertain terms.
Felicity approaches Nigel's twin sister, Madeline, and asks for her assistance. She doesn't want to trick him into marriage, she wants him to WANT to marry her. Felicity and Maddy arrange for Felicity to be at all the same social functions as Nigel, and they get to know each other. There is some funny dialogue about whom is stalking whom, and Felicity ends up telling Nigel she plans to marry him. He explains to her it's never going to happen.
When Maddy's birthday party is suddenly moved due to a flood in the house, she asks Nigel to stay and redirect any guests who didn't get notice. Guess who didn't get notice? Yup, that's right - Felicity. A very sweet moment ensues. They arrive at the new location together and are talked into playing cards as a foursome with an older couple. The dialogue during this card game is hysterical. Felicity and Nigel bet on the outcome of the game, and Felicity wins. She claims as her prize a painting that does not belong to Nigel, and insists on taking it home immediately. Felicity wakes in the middle of the night - there is someone on her balcony! She grabs her pistol before she realizes it's Nigel, trying to steal the painting back.
He ends up kissing her, and she drops the gun, which goes off. The bullet hits a large vase at the same time Nigel leaps away from her, through the french doors and off the balcony. Her parents burst in and quickly assess the situation and it is decided that Nigel will marry Felicity immediately to preserve her reputation.
Nigel marries her, and tells her the day after their wedding that he will continue his life as if he were not married - going out to gentleman's clubs, gambling, and staying out all night, BUT he does expect to have Felicity in bed. He does at least promise he will not sleep with other women. Felicity is devastated; she decides not to get mad, she's going to get even. She tells Nigel if he is going to go out nightly and have a good time, so is she, and proceeds to do so. In reality Maddy has set up an astronomy room in a tower of her home and Felicity is going there, but Nigel doesn't know that, he thinks she's going out. And it's killing him...he's falling in love with her.
They decide they're not going to continue having separate social lives, and Nigel accidentally finds out where Felicity has been going. He gets angry at her deception, and yells, but realizes it doesn't matter and he loves her. It's too late, though, because while he's yelling, Felicity decides she's had enough. She goes home to her parent's house, and refuses to see Nigel. He sends notes every day and she refuses him. The end of the book, when he comes to her, is sweet, tender, and funny.
I loved this book! It was laugh-out-loud funny. All the characters were endearing, not just the main couple, and I rooted for Felicity and Nigel. Loved it, loved it, loved it!