ML is a **** whose life embodies 'spoiling the concubine and destroying the wife', hence his inner courtyard being on fire 80% of the time. This seems to be a political calculation, but I honestly can't see how it gets him ahead in terms of the imperial court.
Pre-transmigrated FL was a b***h, but the story basically goes into how the ML slowly drove her insane/destroyed her life because he never valued her to begin with. No wonder she went nuts and took things out on the concubines. Pre-transmigrated FL was apparently an easily-manipulated moron who was head over heels for him, so if the ML had spent the slightest effort he probably could have controlled her and prevented the utter disaster that was his inner courtyard.
Pretty much the entire story, I've been going, 'MC... you may as well forget going back to the modern era and just take your money and run away with the supporting ML.' But honestly, that isn't a solution for her situation either. She's backed up against a corner and has no outs because her own family is tied up in the struggle for the throne.
The point I quit reading was after she went through a huge struggle just to carry a baby on behalf of the original owner of the body, just for the story to go into a hugely depressing spiral. It was a tragedy conga and I finally gave up because I couldn't see how the situation could be turned around in the MC's favor.
The final goal of 'get the ML to fall in love with the MC' is just... I just find it depressing. The ML set his own backyard on fire, but the only possible happy ending for the MC is for the ML to also get a happy ending.
Nesting a spoiler because this was what made me quit reading:
After the MC goes through some insane struggles just to actually have the baby, the ML ignores the birth of the baby (he has good reasons for doing so) and the actual birth turns into a trap that destroys the MC's reputation and also results in said baby being handed to an enemy who wants her and her family dead. The ML is the one who personally hands the baby over. Again, he has his reasons for doing so, but honestly...
You can see this trap coming from miles away. The pregnancy itself is depressing enough, but it's very obvious during the pregnancy that things aren't going to get better when the baby is out of the womb.
(That said, I admit I thought it would take slightly longer in-universe for something to actually happen to the baby. I thought the MC would at least get one happy moment with her kid before it all went to sh*t.)
You'd think super awesome ML would have picked up on clues like 'the enemy who wants the MC dead showed up to stab her with a knife while she was pregnant because it looked like her husband was favoring her too much' and took some extra care with the birth process, right? Nope!
This dude can't decide on what he wants and he can't protect his own family. He also can't steel himself enough to clean out his backyard and instead runs around getting everyone he can pregnant. This is probably politically calculated, and MC's pregnancy was an accident he purposely tried to prevent, and like... I get it. I get why the ML acts the way he does, but I really do not like the guy.
I would honestly like the ML better if he had just killed off the original MC. At least that would mean he could make some hard decisions. Instead he's this guy who has one foot in one camp and the other foot in another camp, and the people who suffer for it are not him but rather his mother, wife and concubines.
ML probably has good reasons for ending up in this situation. It's the nature of the fight for the throne. But he has so few redeeming qualities made obvious up front, it's really really difficult to like him or root for him to get together with the MC in the end. So, I'm stopping at the point I'm at. Maybe I will pick this story back up later, after I work up my mental fortitude.
spanking his pregnant wife, in an actual corporal punishment way
The initial depiction of the MC is that she's kind of liberal who's very experienced in life-- she doesn't blink at sex, she feels up the ML and talks to him flirtatiously (although she thinks he's a statue at the time), she previously had an affair with her commander in her last life, etc. Then later she's turned into this innocent little white flower who doesn't understand love and never even kissed anyone until ML stole her first kiss. Seems like the author couldn't make up her mind about what kind of person the FL was supposed to be.
That initial depiction seemed pretty different from your typical pure and good Mary Sue who's never been touched by a man. But nope, MC is your standard MC.