What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…
Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.
Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.
Publisher and release date: Avon Books, 29 October, 2013
Time and setting: England, 1860s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Lady Blue
Belinda had a disastrous marriage. She was young and wildly in love with her husband, who bluntly told her after the ceremony that theirs was a marriage of convenience and there was no need for any pretense of sentiment. Then he proceeded to carry on with his gambling and womanizing, and losing her entire dowry. Eventually, he did something right, and died. But Belinda learned her lesson. She will not marry again, and she will help other young ladies, so they don’t fall into the same trap she did. She has become a matchmaker, most noted for matching American heiresses with English titled gentlemen. This has actually been not only satisfying for her, but lucrative as well.
Nicholas, the son of a duke, spent the first twenty years of his life being crushed by his cruel father at every turn. The final straw was when the duke bought off the young (unsuitable) lady Nicholas had fallen in love with and wanted to marry. He moved to Paris, living off the trust fund his mother left for him. But now the duke decides it’s time for Nicholas to come home and marry the woman he has chosen. He managed to have himself made the final authority of Nicholas’ trust fund, and cuts off all payments from it, as well as any other allowance.
While Nicholas is forced to come back to England, he refuses to marry the woman of his father’s choosing. He decides to hire the noted matchmaker, knowing that his father will hate an American heiress for his son’s wife. Nicholas approaches Belinda, using his acquaintance with her deceased husband as the means to gain access to her. Belinda, however, considers Nick the same type of scoundrel her husband was, and wants nothing to do with him. Nick forces her hand by insinuating he will act on an attraction one of the young heiresses has for him unless she complies. She reluctantly agrees.
As they begin the process, they both develop an attraction for each other. In Belinda’s case, she fights it for all she is worth. At a house party, she blasts him with everything she has, deeply hurting him. But her words start to sink in, and they inspire him. At this point, the story goes from ordinary to lovely. Nick comes up with a plan that will let him earn a living that’s not dependent upon his father, and, more importantly, will let him gain Belinda’s respect – if only it succeeds. But the duke is not yet ready to relinquish control, and he exerts his influence, thwarting Nick’s best laid plans.
Belinda, in turn, has seen what Nick is trying to accomplish. She has also found out just how wicked the duke is, and how cruelly he has ruined Nick’s plans and dreams time and again. She realizes that the accusations she hurled at Nick without knowing the full story were not totally justified, and that she was still judging him based on her late husband. The beauty of this story is watching these two people grow, realize their mistakes, and make changes so they can love and live their happy ever after. Oh, and outsmarting the wicked duke, of course.