Series: Ministry of Marriage #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Penguin on 26 June 2012
Lady Cecily Westruther is happy to go along with the Ministry of Marriage’s plans and marry a duke. She craves independence and as the gentleman in question already has an heir and a mistress, she won’t have to spend any time with him. Now this is where things get a little silly but also a bit more entertaining. She wrote a damning letter about her fiancé when she ten and suddenly feels the need to retrieve it before her potential marriage can be destroyed. She dresses up as a footman and breaks into the house where she thinks the letter may be kept, only to encounter the owner Rand, Duke of Ashburn. Sparks fly between the two but Cecily refuses to break her engagement.
Cecily is independent and can be quite charming when she wishes. Unfortunately she is also manipulative, conniving and a cheater. She doesn’t want to marry Norland because of his dashing good looks or his engaging personality (neither of which he has) but because she thinks she will be able to manage him fairly easily. She clings to this idea despite being presented with a much more attractive proposal. I still have no idea why she was so desperate to be independent from her husband and how she thought that would differ from her present life. She used Rand in many ways as she was willing to accept his kisses and more, only to soundly reject him once he got his hopes up.
Rand is like the diet coke of rogues as he looks the part but the experience doesn’t quite match the expectation. Cecily’s feigned disinterest in him is what initially captures his attention. A few well-placed words in the right ear and a smooth seduction ought to win him the girl but when it doesn’t, he resorts to some heavy handed bullying tactics. Rogue, right? Well, not really as he caves fairly quickly. At least he is upfront about his feelings and the scene where he shared the story behind his parents’ china was really touching.The plot travels a well-worn path and this wouldn’t have been a problem if I could have related to the characters more. We have a couple of sub-plots that sort of fizzle out – the first because it was really easy to spot and the second because it wasn’t capitalised on fully.
I’ve read four of Brooke’s novels now and while some of them are enjoyable, quite a few just missed the mark for me. This was one of the latter. I liked the idea behind it and some of the dialogue is fantastic. I just wish the plot had a bit more meat behind it and the character motivation had been slightly more plausible.