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My “villain,” Mary Bennington has been wronged. Her father and Baronet Scott, the father of Andrew and Daniel Scott planned from her birth that she would wed Andrew Scott, the heir to the Scott estate and title. As they grew into adulthood the match was encouraged. For Mary it would allow her to achieve her own and her mother’s goal, to “marry up” in both class and wealth. However, Andrew, defying social conventions and common sense, convinced his father to purchase a commission for himself and joined to be part of the war against Napoleon. He was engaged to Mary. Their fathers would not permit them to marry before Andrew left.
Andrew went missing and was presumed dead. By this time Mary was older than the desired aged for marriage among the upper classes. Her family lacked the money and connections needed to give Mary a “London Season” where matches are made.
To make matters worse, Andrew was not dead but being concealed by his family with the knowledge of Henry, her brother. (Their father was deceased); when Andrew was revealed as still alive, he was terrible scarred and suffering from PTSD. She was not permitted to see him because he refused to see anyone.
There is a lot more to the story, but this, together with the earlier description of her flaws, I feel creates enough sympathy to make her likeable.