Oliver York returns from war to find his father dead, his finances in arrears, and himself the new Earl of Carlisle. If he doesn’t marry an heiress—and fast!—he and his tenants are going to be pitching tents down by the Thames. He definitely shouldn’t be trading kisses with a penniless debutante… no matter how captivating she is!
Miss Grace Halton is in England just long enough to satisfy the terms of her dowry. But a marriage of convenience isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. Back in America, her ailing mother needs medicine only Grace’s dowry can afford. Which means the dashing earl she can’t get out of her mind is the one man she can’t let into her heart.
Source: ARC from NetGalley
So far I’m really enjoying the Dukes of War series, although apart from a few brief appearances by the Duke of Ravenwood, there is absolutely nothing to connect this story to the first novella – The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation – except the Regency setting. However, that seems set to change as this series begins in earnest.
Oliver seems like an all-round decent chap, returning from war wearied and battered and not too happy to be inheriting an earldom. He’s even less happy when he discovers just how little is left of his legacy, thanks to his spendthrift father. I have to admit this idea of an aristocratic father hating his son and spending all the money before he dies is just a bit too common in this genre these days, and it would have been nice to have had some idea of why Oliver’s father hated him so much, other than because he just did. There were plenty of other reasons why the aristocracy started losing money during this time period, so it would be nice if that would crop up occasionally.
Still, it’s only a minor point in this otherwise thoroughly enjoyable tale of a man who can’t help rescuing people, even if most of those he helps don’t wish for assistance – especially when he makes it worse. Which is why Oliver tries not to stare at the beautiful American wallflower he glimpses at the edge of a ballroom – but he simply cannot stay away.
Grace is one determined young lady. She’s in London to rescue her mother, and since her rich grandparents refuse to supply her with anything but a modest dowry, she needs to get married before she can get the money. I love her blind determination to marry, take the money and abandon her groom to return to America. She’s naive without being stupid, she’s just so focused on her goal she doesn’t quite grasp the nuances of the situation. And then Oliver crashes into her world and everything becomes so much more complicated.
Much though I did enjoy this tale, I’ll admit there were a few things that jarred a bit. Mostly around Grace’s entry to the ton. Where were her invites coming from if she was such a social pariah? Then there was the fact that her maid was her chaperone. When she’s out walking, yes, but accompanying her to balls and parties? I shouldn’t have thought so. Also with her grandparents being so rich, I would have expected at least a couple of fortune hunters to have been courting her, since no one would know about her small dowry unless she told them. There’s also a priest, which is rather too Catholic for an Anglican church.
So it’s not perfect, and your enjoyment of it will likely depend on how accurate you like your historical romances to be. However, if you like an easy to read piece of Regency escapism, you can’t go far wrong with this. The hero is noble and lovely, the heroine is determined and likable, the romance starts with a dance, includes some rocky moments and a bit of heat, and the ending is definitely cheesy and convenient, but it’s still good fun. I finished reading with a big smile, and thoroughly intrigued by the hint of what’s to come next. I’ll definitely be back for more.
The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower is out Dec 1st!
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