I will come right out and say this- I am not a big fan of the forced marriage/abandonment trope. But I've read a book by this author that I really liked, so I thought I would give this one a try.
Anna was married at 16. She was found in bed with Jude. Jude happened to be engaged to Anna's sister Olivia. Jude is forced to do the honorable thing and marries Anna. He then impulsively leaves the country and travels for the next 8 years. Anna is left alone. Luckily, Jude's father is supportive and Anna learns all about horses and racing. It turns out, she's one smart cookie.
Fast forward 8 years, after he father's dead, Jude returns. I have very mixed feelings. I really liked Anna. She is smart, independent. I thought she deserved so much more. I really didn't like how Jude blamed Anna for the marriage when she was just as much a victim (granted, he didn't know it, but still I was very annoyed, disappointed). I didn't like his treatment of her and I thought he come-around at the end was too quick. I felt there was no groveling, apology. His confession of love didn't ring true to me.
Some things annoyed me: while married, Jude engaged in numerous affairs in his travels. Anna, true to the trope, remained chaste. After they've made the initial "re-connection," Anna comes across his mistress at the hotel.
I did like the story line about the marriage and Anna's family. I was invested in the story. I'm glad Lief is getting a story, I liked his character.