Oh, how I hate this book!!! Oh, how it tore my heart to shreds time and again. Oh, how it made me laugh... but mostly, it made me scream and cry. And yet, I could not put it down!!! Yes, this book broke my heart, as no other has ever done.Summary: Barbara's father is a gambler, a drinker, and a traitor. He's finally mounted so many debts, her mother has come up with another of her schemes to get the family name back and fill the coffers again. Her mother is exchanging her 15-year old daughter, Barbara, for a prime tract of land in the heart of London -- the exchange being that Barbara is to marry a man who wants the land. Diana, Barbara's mother, thinks that she can convince the man to sponsor her divorce petition and settle quite a bit of money on her as part of the marriage contract. Diana is just as bad as her father - perhaps worse, because Diana has no real love for anyone but herself. She's had 8 children, none of whom she cares for beyond what they can do for her or gain for her. Diana is a woman who quickly uses her looks and her sexual favors to get what she wants, without thought to anyone else. But to her dismay, Diana has chosen the one man that Barbara thinks she loves -- Roger, an old friend of the family, a man who served her grandfather as a personal aide in his many military victories. No matter that Roger is 40+; he's the one man who has ever shown any kindness or feeling to Barbara. Roger is her hero. But the Duchess, Barbara's grandmother, has doubts... rumors that she can't put her finger on that perhaps Roger is not all that he seems. Can Roger make her dearest granddaughter happy?That's all I'll say about that. Now it's time to vent...Poor Barbara... poor sweet, lovely, heroic, loving, strong, naive Barbara. You know that she's in for a big fall the moment she declares her love for Roger - that she's always loved him, despite their 20+ age difference. You know when the Duchess (Grandmama) is niggled by thoughts of possible rumors that Roger had homosexual relationships (called "the French vise") that it would come back to haunt them all. And boy, does it!I wanted to tear Roger apart, limb from limb. He threw everything away with both hands, all over ... what? But Philippe! I can't say I've hated a villain as much as I hate Philipe! And that's saying something, especially after villains such as Black Jack Randall in Outlander! Philippe, who, in his own bitterness at knowing he'd lost Roger to Barbara, still managed to tear Barbara limb-from-limb with his words. Philippe insisted that what was between he & Roger was love - before and after her. Scum! How could Roger have been so fiercely attracted to a monster like Philippe? I really wanted to hate Roger, and then we find out that after Barbara left him in Paris, Roger went on a whore-binge and swore off his physical relationship with Philippe once and for all. And I was ecstatic that Philippe was forced into proximity with Roger, while knowing that he, himself, lost Roger forever. That's what made Philippe's words to Barbara so venomous.Roger might have been carried away by the passion and fury of his relationship with Philippe - possibly because he could never act on his feelings for Barbara's grandfather(I know, icky to think about). But despite his selfishness in wanting to have Barbara and Philippe too, Roger truly loved Barbara. He truly saw her as his talisman - his innocence. Even after he knew that he'd forced her into the arms of other men, Roger didn't blame her. He didn't rail at her. And to allow that separation for 4 long years... to never truly take the opportunity to TELL Barbara that it was always her and that Philippe was a passing passion... that was just CRUEL! To Barbara and to us, the reader!!! Why couldn't Roger put aside his "business" for 1 lousy night to stay with Barbara and tell her the truth? And then to allow Philippe to have the last word was despicable. Yes, I despised the author's choices... but I kept reading.Tony - what a wonder he becomes -- a romance hero worthy of his own great love story. At first, we think him nothing; but I wonder if that had as much to do with his horrid mother and her determination that Tony just wasn't all that bright? Or was it that Tony needed to be tested and tried? Needed to cherish someone and feel needed? I can only hope that perhaps Tony & Barbara can end up together after all... that Tony will follow Barbara to Virginia. I thought that's what Grandmama had in mind with her scheme, but I'm not so certain now.As for the rest of Barbara's family... well, I have no love for them. Especially for Aunt Abigail, who believed all the spiteful, hateful rumors and didn't allow the truth to hit her for one minute. All that Barbara endured at the hands of her mother, her father, and her Aunt Abigail - atrocious! And to think that Abigail is so taken with Philippe! I hope that odious woman learns exactly what Philippe is, preferably from Barbara, when Philippe is in the room. And Tony, too, so that Tony can challenge Philippe to a duel and kill Philippe once and for all.I can't recommend this book. It's too heartbreaking... too bittersweet... too much death and destruction. And yet, it's a beautiful story -- one that will stay with me. I just don't know if I have the heart to read the 2nd book any time soon.