The Marquis of Kexley has a problem. He is exceedingly rich, exceedingly handsome, and exceedingly clever. Yet, he is completely terrified of women and disgusted at the very thought of marriage. Much of the book is devoted to hammering these points home repeatedly. Strangely, this fear does not extend to married women; he loves to sleep with any and all who are willing, and he feels no regret. Single women and widows, however, are all gold-diggers and are only worthy of his disdain, although he sleeps with some of them, too. We are told of his many discarded women who weep and send pleading letters, and he delights in ignoring them. Is this sexy? Is he an "alpha male"? I was very confused.
There are numerous scenes of him going to enormous lengths to flee from women, rather than just tell them, "Sorry, I'm not interested." In one scene, he slept with a sweet, young widow. He suspected that she wanted marriage and had "feelings of revulsion" at the thought, so he concocted a story about a sick relative and fled on his yacht from England to Scotland. Despite his treatment of women and his proclivity for sleeping with all of the married ones, he unbelievably has many male friends, including one, the Prince of Wales, who tries to set him up with a young woman. Fortunately, the Marquis finds her beneath his standards.
In Scotland, he encounters a wicked woman from his past who is now married to an old family friend. Thus begins a convoluted extortion plot involving the Marquis, the wicked woman, and the woman's virginal stepdaughter. I'll spare you the rest. I just can't get behind a hero who has such hatred for women, and I'm surprised anyone would find him to be even minimally appealing.
As if all this wasn't bad enough, the writing is awful - very childish and awkward to read.