He never expected the clues to lead to her…
Edward Adair, heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, is more interested in finding a missing family heirloom than a wife. But when his parents issue an ultimatum – marry or lose your allowance – he reluctantly agrees to attend a house party to find a bride. Instead, he discovers attractive but infuriating Miss Isabella Winthrop in his library, reading the private family journal that holds clues to the location of the heirloom.
Though Isabella finds Edward haughty and arrogant, she offers to take him to the next clue mentioned in the journal if he will pay her, which will enable her to help her brother restore his estate. Edward counters with an offer of an even larger payment…if she agrees to masquerade as his betrothed to deter the other ladies until the house party ends.
As they work together to solve the mystery their mutual attraction grows, but just when they begin to think they should make their engagement real, a secret is revealed that could destroy everything.
This is a quick little historical romance set in the early Victorian era (yay!), with a mystery thrown in. It’s light entertainment, has a pretty cover, and I can see why it is receiving a few criticisms from other reviewers.
I’ve seen it said that the writing in this one is simple, and I wasn’t sure what to make of that until I tried it myself. I will have to agree on that front; while the author makes sure not to tell us everything, she does info-dump via characters’ conversations. There are also some sentences that just keep on going. An example:
Isa rushed to hug her sister-in-law, whom she hadn’t seen in months since she and Edward had just returned to town after enjoying and extended honeymoon in Hampshire.
However, I do like the mystery aspect. It’s nice when an author tries something a little different.
On the other hand, I am tired of the genre favourite: the way none of the male characters want to marry, and so they spend all their time insulting women.
He shuddered at the thought of their mothers, who were worse than the simpering girls.
By the time the fourth course had arrived, Edward had begun to wonder whether his parents had deliberately rounded up the most hideous group of girls they could find.
And so on for pages.
Apart from anything else, it’s anachronistic. Marriage was all-important, to both parties. And shaming well-bred young ladies for looking for husbands is horrible. It was the only thing they could do with their lives. They had no choice.
I suppose this one sits somewhere in the middle of my historical romance reading. It’s a novella, so it is appropriate for an evening’s read.
I do love the cover, though (regardless of what era that style is)! Even if I can’t believe I just read yet another professionally edited book that mixed up pore over and pour over!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.