When Lady Emmaline Wenlock, daughter of the Duke of Kelbourne, made her debut she was an Incomparable and had her choice of all of the most eligible men, but one look into the eyes of Jack, Baron Devreux and her choice was made. Two months of courtship further convinced Emma that Jack was the only man she would ever love and the two young lovers eagerly made plans for their future. Unfortunately, Emma's family did not think that Jack was a good match for Emma since Jack's father had bankrupted the family estates and dragged the family's name through scandal. Determined to be together, Jack and Emma make plans to elope, but when Emma meets Jack, he is foxed and he drives them off in the wrong direction, which leads Emma to believe that Jack considers their elopement a lark. Heartbroken, Emma forces Jack to stop the carriage, disembarks and begins the long walk home leaving Jack on the side of the road. Expecting Jack to come back for her once he sobers up, Emma returns home and faithfully waits for him, but when Jack never comes back, Emma dutifully marries the Earl of Fallbrook. Seven years in an unhappy marriage and six years of widowhood alone in the country have brought Emma back to London to enjoy the pleasures of the Season, and perhaps also, the pleasures of a lover, but the appearance of Jack Devreux puts a kink in her plans as she realizes that thirteen years have not dimmed her love for him.
At twenty-one Jack Devreux inherited the embarrassment of a bankrupt title and estates from his wastrel of a father. His only goal is to get clear of those debts and start a thoroughbred farm but the moment he meets Lady Emma, his heart is lost. Proving that he is good enough for her becomes his new goal and the two contentedly discuss their plans for their future never doubting that they will be together. When Emma leaves Jack on the side of the road during their botched elopement, Jack returns home to make alternate arrangements for their marriage, and instead of contacting Emma right away, he decides to punish her a bit and ignores her, but Jack is the one who is punished when a short time later Emma's betrothal to the Earl of Fallbrook is announced. More determined than ever to prove to Emma and her family how mistaken they were in his character and consequence, Jack not only rebuilds his family fortune, but also establishes himself as a breeder of the most sought after thoroughbreds in England. But, despite all his success, Emma is still missing from his life and now that she has returned to London, Jack has the chance to prove to Emma that they have wasted too many years apart.
While the plot of Lady Emma's Dilemma centers solely around the ”big misunderstanding” Rhonda Woodward has given it a unique twist. For thirteen years both Jack and Emma interpreted the events of that fateful night differently and it left both of them with a disdain of the other. Emma hated Jack for consigning her to thirteen years of a lonely existence, and when she finds passion in his arms once again she realizes what she has missed and her disappointment is palpable. Jack believed that Emma was a flighty debutante who decided that she would be happier with a wealthy title rather than a bankrupt Baron who loved her wholeheartedly. When their misconceptions of that bitter event are finally revealed their reconciliation is bittersweet as each sees how much they have both lost. The ending was joyous and the fit the story perfectly. I highly recommend Lady Emma's Dilemma – it is going on my keeper shelf.