Whether or not you enjoy Something About Emmaline, depends largely on whether or not you give into a willing suspension of disbelief.
To avoid the marriage mart mamas, Alexander Denford, Baron Sedgewick, invented an imaginary wife. Of course, he invents a paragon of a woman in his mind. He manages to pull it off in society by establishing a detailed back-story. His ”wife” Emmaline was raised in Africa which explains why no one has met her. She has a delicate constitution that keeps her in the country. Sedgewick has letters written to his grandmother by his solicitor pretending to be Emmaline, so as to not raise grandmother’s suspicions. Only Sedgewick and his best friend know the truth.
One day Sedgewick starts receiving bills from Lady Sedgewick’s charges around London. Sedgewick races to London to figure out who is pretending to be his non-existent wife. “Emmaline” is a con artist who has set herself up in society and in the Sedgewick home as Lady Sedgewick. The charges she’s racked up are from re-decorating the London home and from buying a new wardrobe.
This is the point when readers may find an improbable situation even harder to swallow… Sedgewick decides to let Emmaline stay for awhile because he can’t figure out how to explain it if she were to disappear. What man decides to let a total stranger live in his house, sleep in his bed, and spend his money? If this were the way real life worked, I’d be setting up house with Hugh Jackman.
Despite the contrived story, the romance between Emmaline and Sedgewick is enjoyable. Sedgewick always considered himself content in his life until Emmaline comes along. No big surprise, but Emmaline is not the paragon that Sedgewick imagined he wanted. Instead she is smart, witty, and vivacious. Emmaline is also a realist about the options a lady or a base-born woman like herself has in the early 1800s. This is why Emmaline runs cons – her other options are less than desirable.
Sedgewick never forgets that he doesn’t know who Emmaline is, but still he can’t resist her. The conversations and interactions between the two highlight feelings that develop based on getting to know each other rather than just attraction.
Unfortunately, the abrupt ending is less than satisfying. All loose ends – who is Emmaline, why is she pretending to be Lady Sedgewick, etc. – were too neatly tied up in another improbable situation. If you’re willing to overlook the unlikely situations, you’ll find this an acceptable story.