(An American Heiress in London, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)
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 heart-breaking 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.
This is a beautifully crafted love story from the talented pen of Laura Lee Guhrke. I particularly like Ms Guhrke’s books because they are set either in the late Victorian or early Edwardian eras. I love the Regency period but sometimes it’s just refreshing to read a book set in an era of social and economic change.
The late Victoria era saw the erosion of the wealth of many of the great country estates. American heiresses, who were shunned by New York high society because their family’s wealth came from trade, were highly sought after by impoverished members of the British aristocracy. The heiresses provided the much needed cash to restore their crumbling estates in return for a title and social status, but not always happiness as Lady Belinda Featherstone, the heroine of this book, discovers. At seventeen, after a whirl courtship, she marries the dashing Earl of Featherstone, only to discover the man she had fallen madly in love with was nothing but a fortune hunter who had never loved her.
Only after the wedding had she learned of her new husband’s four mortgaged estates, two mistresses, and three hundred thousand pounds of debt.
During the five years since her husband’s premature death, she has carved out a successful place for herself in British society and gained a reputation for being the finest marriage broker in England. She is determined to ensure that no young lady will not make the same mistake that she did.
At the age of twenty one, Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge finally escaped the influence of his domineering, tyranical father by going to Paris. His reputation already in tatters, he spent his time living up that reputation by drinking, gambling and consorting with women of low moral character. Things change drastically when his father cuts off monies from his trust fund. He will restore them as soon as Nicholas marries someone whom his father approves off. Nicholas has no intention of succumbing to his father’s demands but needs to find a wealthy wife. His only option is to seek Lady Featherston’s help in finding a suitable wife.
“I shall make sure that any young lady you are considering knows just what sort of man you are, of your scandalous past, the dishonorable reasons for your courtship, the mercenary quality of your intentions, and just what a horrible husband you would make.
I could relate to Belinda’s initial feelings towards Nicholas and her refusal to help him. From her perspective, he is a carbon copy of her late husband…a rake and self-confessed fortune hunter who is bound to break the heart of any impressionable young wife, just as her heart had been broken. But I liked how, as she comes to know him better, she is willing to admit that her harsh judgement of Nicholas was wrong.
I loved how the romance developed… their initial witty, sarcastic banter, the simmering sexual tension, their undeniable passion for each other and the deliciously sensual love scenes.
One of the best scenes is where Belinda makes Nicholas realise that he has never truly broken free of his father’s control…he has never been master of his own life. It is a life-altering moment for Nicholas because he realises that to earn Belinda’s love, he must first earn her respect. It’s the impetus he needs to turn his life around.
And now, as he thought of being something more than a lily of the field, he felt hope stirring inside him, something he hadn’t had since he was a boy. He wanted to find a purpose for his life.
Nicholas’s father, the Duke of Lansdowne was truly odious and I loved the scene where Nicholas confronted him, only to discover that Belinda had already been there before him. I couldn’t agree more with Belinda when she says….
“What an odious man. I had no idea. Really, if he’d been my father, I think I’d have had to shoot him.”
The exchanges between Nicholas and his friend Denys were funny especially the scene in which Nicholas asks him for a loan.
I was really intrigued by the situation between the Duke and Duchess of Margrave whose marriage Belinda considers to be her “most colossal failure”. Luckily their story is next in the series.
My Verdict: Overall, a delightful start to a romantic, entertaining and witty new series.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read August 2015
An American Heiress in London series (click on the book covers for more details):