How I Married a Marquess (The Secret Life of Scoundrels #3) by Anna Harrington

How I Married a Marquess
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A SHOCKING DECEPTION . . .
Josephine Carlisle, adopted daughter of a baron, is officially on the shelf. But the silly, marriage-minded misses in the ton can have their frilly dresses and their seasons in London, for all she cares. Josie has her freedom and her family . . . until an encounter with a dark, devilishly handsome stranger leaves her utterly breathless at a house party. His wicked charm intrigues her, but that’s where it ends. For Josie has a little secret . . .

. . . LEADS TO AN EXQUISITE SEDUCTION
Espionage was Thomas Matteson, Marquess of Chesney’s game-until a tragic accident cost him his career. Now to salvage his reputation and return to the life he loves, the marquess must find the criminal who’s been robbing London’s rich and powerful. He’s no fool-he knows Josie, with her wild chestnut hair and rapier-sharp wit, is hiding something and he won’t rest until he unravels her mysteries, one by one. But he never expected to be the one under arrest-body and soul . . .

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Publisher and Release Date: Forever (April 26, 2016)

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Lincolnshire, 1817
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Sara

From the book description of How I Married a Marquess I should have enjoyed this story much more than I did. All of the elements I expected were there; a strong heroine seeking justice for the unfortunate, a hero trying to reorder his life after a devastating injury and love bringing the two of them together against a common enemy. As a whole the book was good, with a fast pace that made it a quick read; however when I look closer at the story I can see the small flaws that kept me from rating it higher.

The story opens up a year after the events of the previous book Along Came a Rogue and Lord Thomas Matteson is still recovering from the gunshot wound that almost killed him. The injury and the long rehabilitation have taken Thomas away from the work he loves as a spy for the Home Office, and unfortunately his superiors feel that Thomas has lost his nerve and have quietly dismissed him from service. Grasping at any chance to get back in the game Thomas accepts a job from his father’s close friend Lord Royston to investigate and capture a highwayman who’s been plaguing the roads around his property. If Thomas can handle the job quickly and quietly, Lord Royston will use his clout to have Thomas reinstated as an agent.

Using Royston’s house party as a cover, Thomas hopes to get the lay of the land and ferret out people who might be helping the highwayman. What he doesn’t count on is catching the eye of a young woman who stands out against all the other guests and who charms him with her wit and a sweet disposition that is absent from the women of London. Miss Josephine Carlisle intrigues Thomas from the beginning and makes him feel more emotion in an innocent night dancing than he had seducing the most experienced women of the ton. Not wanting to let that feeling escape him, Thomas makes it his secondary mission to learn why a woman like Josephine affects him so much.

Allowing a man like Thomas too close is dangerous for Josie, especially when she learns of his task to capture the local highwayman. Josie’s position in local society is already tenuous as the adopted daughter of the Carlisle family but she jeopardizes even that reputation by playing Robin Hood to gather funds for the orphanage run by Lord Royston. She knows there is an ulterior motive to Royston’s patronage but she has nothing to prove it other than servant’s gossip and her own instinct. The more Thomas pushes to know her, the harder it is for Josie to hide that side of herself, even when her heart wants to trust him with everything.

Josie’s struggle with her identity did help me empathize with her choice to risk so much to do what is right. No matter how much love her family gave her, she always tempered it with the reality that as an adopted daughter, society would always see her as lacking. Her compassion for the children at the orphanage overrides her common sense sometimes, but ultimately her motivation and heart are leading her in the right direction. Where Thomas can only see the Right/Wrong of the highwayman’s actions, Josie challenges him to see there are shades of grey and that the real villain might not be the one he was initially sent to find.

There is a lot of give and take in Thomas and Josie’s relationship; with her giving so much of herself and him taking it. It seems that no matter how deeply Thomas feels for Josie he holds a part of himself back from her. This is difficult to accept as romantic, since she opens herself so freely. Thomas wasn’t damaged enough for me to believe that he needed that all-forgiving love without understanding how to reciprocate it. He just comes across as selfish. His need to have purpose again and his drive to prove himself no matter the cost blinds him to what his actions are doing to Josie. She is torn between her own needs and desires yet he always minimizes that struggle in favor of what he can get from her physically or emotionally.

Overall. I believe that Anna Harrington is a great new voice in Historical Romance but How I Married a Marquess isn’t as strong as the first two books of the Secret Life of Scoundrels series. Even so, I still recommend the series as a whole and look forward to what the author will come up with next.

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