Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Pocket Books on 19 January 2010
Hetty Plumtree has had enough of her five grandchildren frittering their lives away so she sets an ultimatum – marry within one year or get disinherited. The eldest, Oliver (Lord Stoneville), who makes up the drinking and wenching component of the quintet isn’t going to take this lightly. He comes across Maria and her cousin Freddy in a brothel of all places where they have been accused of theft and decides she’ll do. He promptly threatens to have her arrested where she will no doubt be found guilty and hanged if she doesn’t pretend to be his fiancé.
Maria’s father died leaving half his very successful shipping business to her and half to his business partner Nathan who she is engaged to. She and her cousin blithely trip over the pond to England to find him without bringing any credentials, letters of recommendation or securing even securing an attorney that could make inquiries on her behalf etc. Nevertheless she somehow manages to spy a person carrying the very bag that she commissioned for Nathan and they follow this chap to a brothel. When Freddy tries to steal the bag, they runs into Oliver. Maria may have agreed to help Oliver but she remains steadfastly devoted to her fiancé Nathan – except of course for heavy stroking and nibbling in a carriage after a day, the scene in the study, the one where Oliver visits her unexpectedly and…you get the idea. Oliver calls her ‘angel’ and rarely has a nickname missed the mark so soundly – she is either verbally assaulting him (which he likes) or physically assaulting him (in more ways than one which he really, really likes).
Oliver believes that an incident with his mother led her to shoot his father and then kill himself. Heavy stuff indeed but the way it was presented, I’m afraid I couldn’t really empathise. To deal with his angst he set about bedding every available woman. He’s a bit immature and sets out to deceive his grandmother. I actually would have had more respect for him if he had told her to shove it and used his brains to solve his predicament. Wallowing in self-pity interspersed with fits of rage would have fitted the Byronic model we were given.
The characters rarely broke out of their stereotypical mold. Oliver decided to give up his womanising because of the love of a brave and resilient woman who speaks her mind that just happened to need his help. The sisters were typically unconventional with their writing and fighting and the brothers insisted on engaging in gambling and racing etc. Some of the language was awkward. There was also an awful lot of telling rather than showing, especially when it came to Oliver. This is a pet peeve of mine as it is difficult to connect with the characters and buy the romance we are presented. I never really got at the end of the day why Oliver was willing to make this supposedly respectable woman his fake fiancé then his mistress and finally his wife in such a short space of time. It felt more like lust between the two than anything else.
I’d recommend it as a library borrow rather than a purchase just to see if the style fits. It missed the mark for me as I prefer a bit more plot, rounded characters and solid world-building.