Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Since being named one of London’s "Lords to Land" by a popular ladies’ magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlessly pursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presents itself, he eagerly jumps—only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he’s ever met! The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father’s recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother’s birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks. But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless…like falling madly, passionately in love.
Young, beautiful but impoverished Lady Isabel Townsend is secretly running a shelter for women on her family estate up in the boonies of Northern England. It helps pay the bills although her roof needs repair and she has no way to pay for her younger brother to go to a proper boy's school. Her recently deceased father, a spendthrift with a less than savory reputation amongst the ton, left them with almost nothing to live on, except the house and some ancient statues that Isabel is reluctant to part with. Isabel is managing the best she can, with a house full of women who are working for her as assorted servants, a groom, butler and a few able bodied footmen, although with a decidedly feminine air about them.
She encounters the handsome and much sought after Lord Nicholas St. John, who is looking for the sister of the Duke of Leighton, his close friend. The Duke's sister, Georgiana has run away because she is pregnant and is seeking refuge at Isabel's estate, which has developed a sort of underground reputation as a safe place for women. Nicholas has somewhat of a past reputation as a "finder." He is also an antiquities expert with, I suspect, a sort of Indiana Jones edge to him. As he's following Georgiana's trail and getting closer and closer to her, he and Isabel meet by accident - quite literally. Isabel, absorbed in reading some papers in the village nearly gets herself run over by a cart. Nicholas saves her just in time, having no idea that she is the source of his quarry. Talk about finding love in the least likely of places. He is immediately struck by her fine figure and unusual height - not to mention beauty. But, most of all, he is taken by her because she seems to have no idea he is such a catch in London - every matchmaking mama's dream! Instead, she only knows him as the well known antiquities expert and she just happens to have some "marbles" that need to be appraised and - ultimately sold.
At the same time, her "girls" back at the estate are convinced that Isabel should marry for money. That is the only way to save the estate. They paw through their favorite ladies' periodical, Pearls and Pelisses, seeking advice on how to land a lord. Isabel will have none of it. She's convinced selling the marbles will save the estate. Albeit, she is sorry to part with them, the Greek and Roman statues are worth a small fortune. She is strong and independent and doesn't want to marry herself off to the highest bidder. After seeing all the women who have been mistreated by men over the years, seeking refuge at her home, that's the last thing she wants to do. Nicholas invites himself to the estate, his "tracker" antennae suspecting she is hiding something there, due to her cagey invitation to inspect her statues. He shows up early and unexpectedly with his friend, "Rock," a Turk that takes a liking to Isabel's cousin (nice little side story there.) A huge storm hits the area and they're forced to spend the night. Pandemonium ensues as Isabel valiantly tries to keep her big secret - a secret from Lord St. John! Even though she has no idea that he's looking for Georgiana, who has been happily acting as her brother's governess and teaching him Latin, she can't let word get out, it could ruin her!
Well, one thing after another happens and Nicholas falls for Isabel as soon as he sees her in her britches trying to patch the roof. It doesn't hurt it's raining and her thin blouse becomes plastered to her figure. This leads to a kiss and the fireworks begin... Soon Nicholas melts Isabel's heart and changes her mind about lords and men and the possibilities of all the pleasures they can bring! If those marbles could only talk! ;) This was a fun regency and follow up to MacLean's first book, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, but not quite as good. I enjoyed this, but I didn't love it. Unfortunately, it was a little like another book I've recently read, How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn, which I preferred over this one. They both had the cute little bits at the beginning of each chapter, instructing the reader on how to land their lord or marquis - whatever - and the penniless daughter left with no money, needing to raise her sibling. Similar. Here, there were plenty of plot twists and turns and the usual happy ending as well as some touching moments when both come to terms with their parents' mistakes. I liked the way Nicholas interacted with Isabel's little brother, the young earl, as well. Both Isabel and Nicholas grow and learn in this tale. They're both able to shed some of the burdens that have been on their shoulders for years. It's well written and has a a good plotline with some funny moments too, I like this author and she'll be an automatic buy for me.
We get some fun glimpses of my favorites from the last book too. Nick's brother, Gabriel, and his wife Callie (I loved both of them!) help save the day for Isabel and Nicholas after they have their "big misunderstanding." Naturally, there are more books to come, the next will focus on the jerky Duke of Leighton who left his sister Georgiana alone after realizing her condition. There's more to that story, I'm sure. He leaves much to be desired and deserves his comeuppance. I'm sure Nicholas and Gabriel's fiery Italian sister, Juliana, will succeed in accomplishing just that occurrence.
Last but not least, someone please get Ms. MacLean some decent covers for her books! They're too good to have these cheap and nondescript covers! The color of this one is atrocious as well as the font and photo - uggh, there is nothing I like about it! Red and purple??? Yecch! But don't let that stop you from reading, as the old saying goes, don't judge a book by it's cover! :)