Richard Hill, the Earl of Windermere, might desperately require a wife and heir, but thoughts of duty fly from his mind when he rescues Esme, Lady Heathcote, from the embarrassment of a failed affair. They usually never agree about anything. He’s never even kissed the vexing widow. But when the opportunity arises to whisk her away for a no-strings-attached rendezvous, Richard can’t imagine a better way to spend a moonlit evening.
Esme has never lacked for admirers, but having Lord Windermere’s company goes a long way to ease the pain of losing her suddenly betrothed lover. And when Windermere suggests an affair, Esme is intrigued by the blazing-hot connection even while knowing their relationship has no future beyond his house party.
But as with any temptation, it’s a bargain they’ll soon regret.
Publisher and Release Date: LLD Press, December 2015
Time and Setting: Regency England
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Lady Wesley
Esme, Lady Heathcote, a merry widow, is friends (but nothing more) with Richard Hill, the Earl of Windermere. The first thing I liked about this book is that the main couple is mature: Richard is 43 and Esme is 36 (or maybe older, as she has been known to lie about her age), so they’re downright elderly by the standards of Hollywood and historical romance!
Reluctantly recognizing the need to marry and beget heirs, Richard organizes a house party brimming with young, prospective brides. Among the guests are Esme and her current amour, but when that gentleman suddenly announces his engagement to one of the young lovelies, Richard is appalled to think of Esme suffering such embarrassment. His solution: offer to engage in an affair-of-convenience with Esme for the duration of the house party.
“Why not?” thinks Esme. It could be enjoyable and would help her save face before the other guests. Esme is already helping Richard by acting as his de facto hostess and as time passes, Richard realizes that he is becoming smitten with her. She would make a perfect countess, apart from the fact that Esme knows that she would not be a good wife for Richard, as he needs an heir and she is barren. Moreover, Esme has no interest in marrying again and surrendering her independence.
I liked Esme; she is strong and determined but not without softness. In most other Regency romances, a woman like Esme would be cast as the wicked Other Woman, but here she is a character deserving of our admiration. Richard is admirable as well. This series is called Distinguished Rogues, but I’m not sure that Richard is really a rogue. When he falls for Esme, he falls hard, and that’s always fun to watch. Esme refuses marriage, but I never felt that she was stringing him along for no good reason.
I always enjoy house party stories because I like watching the interplay among the guests. This book handles that aspect very well and also includes lots of humorous banter between Richard and Esme. There’s a bit of ludicrousness about Richard’s family tradition of abducting brides, but that passes quickly. All in all, Reason to Wed was a quick, fun read – just the thing for a rainy Saturday afternoon. Heather Boyd is an author I will definitely read again.