Connor Brice, is hellbent on revenge against his half brother, Sir Robert. The first step in his revenge? Steal Sir Robert's fiancee, Adelaide Ward. The fact that Miss Ward is the same woman Connor had been fascinated with, while sitting in prison, is just a bonus. For her part, Adelaide is trapped. She doesn't want to marry the condescending Sir Robert, but her brother's gambling habit has left her with little choice. Its either marry him for his 5,000 pounds a year or go to the poor house. Things begin to spin out of control though when Connor interferes with her plans and Adelaide gets sucked even further into the brothers' revenge schemes.
Johnson has an interesting revenge plot going on here. Connor's drive and focus on gaining vengeance is believable and I agreed that Sir Robert needed to be taken down a peg or two. The guy was horrible. Poor Adelaide just has the misfortune of getting swept up in the tide of their animosity. So then, what was my problem with the story? The elimination of Adelaide's choices and power. Was she given the choice between Sir Robert and Connor? Yes. Is this more than what the typical historical romances with compromised heroines get? Yes. But honestly, she still didn't get to decide. Sir Robert was painted so horribly that Adelaide would've been committing suicide if she chose him.
Adelaide herself was a pretty good HR heroine. She was practical, smart, and didn't take much crap from Connor. Yet she fell into the innocent "I know nothing what-so-ever about sex" trope that I so loathe. Yes, it's so integrated into the genre that it's practically a requirement, but her extreme naivete about sex still annoyed me. I actually ended up skipping the sex scene between Connor and her, because I just wasn't interested in reading another HR deflowering scene where the more experienced hero shows the heroine the ropes.
But I'll admit that most of the issues I had with this book was a "It's me, not you" situation. An Unexpected Gentleman has a wonderful hero and heroine, a fairly original plot, and some great supporting characters. Most of my problems stemmed from the tropes in the genre.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Elizabeth Hoyt and Lisa Kleypas. Johnson has a writing style that fans of those two authors will enjoy immensely.