I'm not sure where to start with Christine Wells's Wicked Little Game
? perhaps with the Indecent Proposal
-like premise, wherein a husband attempts to sell his wife's favors
for many thousands of pounds. But, actually, that will give you a false impression. Though, seeing as Vane and Sarah begin their relationship with a false impression, maybe that's appropriate.
Here's the brief plot synopsis: Brinsley Cole is married to Lady Sarah. Lady Sarah is admired from afar by the Marquis of Vane. Brinsley is not a nice man. Brinsley offers Vane one night with Lady Sarah in exchange for the sum of ten thousand pounds. Vane is tempted, but refuses. Brinsley lies to Sarah and tricks her into going to Vane that very night. Vane thinks Sarah is there to seduce him, but Sarah believes Vane will utterly ruin her and her husband if she doesn't share his bed. While Vane and Sarah are getting intimate, Brinsley is murdered. Both Sarah and Vane are suspects. The only way to clear their names is to come clean about where they were at the time of the murder. Sarah confesses to the affair, and Vane realizes she'll be scandalized, so he in turn does the honorable thing and offers her his hand in marriage.
In a typical romance novel, Sarah would most likely refuse Vane's offer, claiming she could weather the consequences somehow. She does make a few feeble protestations, but she's sensible enough to realize that marrying Vane is for the best. She explains to him that she's barren, and that, as the Marquis, he'll ultimately want an heir. But, since Vane has been pining for Sarah for seven years, her protests fall on deaf ears, as do her desires for a chaste marriage, a notion which Vane quickly seduces her out of.
What I liked most about Wicked Little Game was that, for a change, the hero wasn't the wounded party in need of healing. Sarah's marriage to Brinsley had been a disaster leaving her with little trust and even fewer resources, but she was practical enough to recognize the wisdom of marrying Vane and strong enough to trust him. She wasn't "spunky" and often seemed downright morose. And this wasn't a lighthearted or easy book, but that's a good thing. The emotions are real, which makes the "happily ever after" all that much more rewarding when it comes.