Below is my current synopsis for Three Proposals:
March, 1815: After spending three years in the West Indies following the death of her parents, SUSANNAH CRESSINGHAM returns to England a few months shy of her majority to finalize her inheritance so she can save her sister from an abusive marriage. Marriage is not in her plans until her uncle and guardian, CAPTAIN ALASTAIR CRESSINGHAM, forces her into an engagement with his friend, VISCOUNT BRISLEY. Unbeknownst to her, the viscount has agreed to split her generous dowry with her uncle. Once he has his half of Susannah’s dowry, Alastair can exact his revenge on his family and England, something he’s been planning for years, then escape to the Continent to live a life of luxury once Napoleon returns as Emperor.
With the wedding only three weeks away, Susannah decides that if she must marry, it will be to a man she chooses, preferably a younger son, one convenient, unattractive, easy to manipulate, and eager for half her fortune. What she doesn’t expect, though, is someone like NATE KINLAN, Earl of Rainsford, to woo her. He’s smart, devilishly attractive, and difficult to ignore…everything she’s trying to avoid in a husband-in-name-only.
However, Nate isn’t looking for the future Lady Rainsford. He’s a spy with the Home Office, convinced that Susannah’s uncle is the traitor behind the death of his friends, and courts Susannah to gain access to Alastair. The more Nate is with Susannah, though, the more she captivates him.
The viscount has his own motive for marrying Susannah and it isn’t love…for her, anyway. He’s desperate to prove his love to Princess Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s sister, by providing the money she says her brother needs to return to France as l’Empereur. When Napoleon’s trek to Paris progresses quicker than expected, Pauline pressures Brisley to deliver the funds.
Brisley tells Alastair to secure a special license and move up the marriage timeline, but Alastair refuses. A quick wedding will wreak havoc to his plans. Determined, Brisley threatens to reveal treasonous evidence which he holds against Alastair; he has no choice but to comply.
When Susannah learns of the special license, she panics and concludes Nate is her best chance at saving herself from Brisley. She is therefore devastated when she finds out he’s with his “mistress,” and, cursing Nate, leaves at once for Dover, intent on escaping England.
Nate not only realizes he’ll lose all access to Alastair if Susannah marries someone else, but also has become as concerned about her welfare as proving her uncle’s guilt. He finds Susannah and proposes a fake marriage, which will protect her while still allowing him to search for evidence. She presses him about his mistress, and Nate is forced to admit he’s a spy. “Mistress” is simply a code word. Angry at his deceit, but with few options, she agrees to the farce. They “wed” and move into her uncle’s home under the guise that their new home is not ready.
As Nate and Susannah play the married couple, their mutual attraction grows, but Alastair isn’t convinced. Suspicious, he soon learns of their fake marriage, as well as Nate’s mission to bring him down. To deflect attention from himself, Alastair goes on the offensive and makes a public spectacle of Nate, accusing him of treason and of ruining Susannah’s reputation, and has him arrested. Susannah is devastated.
Brisley presses for a quick trial and Nate is set to hang. Susannah, sure that Nate loves her as much as she does him, searches her uncle’s home and finds the damning piece of evidence. Her uncle and the viscount are arrested and Nate and Susannah exchange vows again, this time for real.