(The Duke of Strathmore, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
The Favourite Heiress…
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman. As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London’s most eligible debutante has come to an end. But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he’s concerned, she’s still the catch of the season.
The Illegitimate Son…
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father’s legitimate children. But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice’s father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
An Unsuitable Match…
David’s been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn’t long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won’t be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…
Let me say straightaway that I’m sure I would have liked this book much more had I read LETTER FROM A RAKE (book 1) first. It’s clear that events occurring in that book have a direct impact on the story and characters in AN UNSUITABLE MATCH. At times I felt a little adrift, as though I should already know something about the characters but didn’t. So it took me some time to really immerse myself in the story but when I did, I enjoyed it.
At first, I found it hard to relate to Clarice because there was so much negativity about her – her drab, ill-fitting clothes; the grief and guilt she feels over her mother’s death; her belief that she is totally undeserving of love; her desire to be punished and suffer for her actions. It was only when she starts to come out of her shell and embraces life again that I warmed towards her. I enjoyed seeing her finally having the courage to face her past and lay the ghosts to rest.
I liked David from the start. Although he is the bastard son of the Duke of Strathmore, his father and step-mother make no distinction between him and their other children. However much they might insult each other, the Radley brothers are fiercely loyal and I adored this tight-knit, loving family. The scene where David’s father hands him the deeds to Shambrook Grange is very emotional and reveals the deep love between father and son. David’s desire to be a good and fair employer to those working on the Shambrook estate and the way he ensures that needy families in the village are housed in the empty estate cottages shows what a deeply caring person he is.
As with all good romances, the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly. Clarice and David’s happiness is threatened not only by Clarice’s disapproving father but also by his heir, the devious and menacing Thaxter Fox. It’s lucky they have stalwart champions in the form of David’s sister Lucy and Clarice’s grandmother Lady Alice. Lucy is such a live-wire and I love her matchmaking efforts and tendency towards amateur dramatics. The larger-than-life Lady Alice is a delight with her “magical” walking stick.
I was all set to dislike Clarice’s father until I discovered that he was only testing David’s worthiness because he loves his daughter and only wants her happiness and I couldn’t fault him for that.
There are some nice touches of humour interspersed throughout the story and the Epilogue provides a teaser for Lucy’s book and I am definitely looking forward to reading it.
My Verdict: Overall, a delightful story enhanced by some memorable secondary characters.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read July 2015
The Duke of Strathmore series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
**I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.**