My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Four Hundred #1
Publication Date: 10/31/17
What an engrossing start to a new series! The writing is excellent, the setting is elegant, the characters are interesting and engrossing, the villain is unexpected and the HEA is hard-won – what more could you ask for in any book.
This story is set in a different time and place than I usually enjoy, but I loved it anyway. America’s Gilded Age had brash Americans making and spending money hand-over-fist. It was the day of the Astor’s and the others in the 400 which is comparable to the Regency period’s ton. Ostentatious is the word that comes to mind – bigger jewels, bigger homes, bigger everything.
Lady Honora Parker is the daughter of an Earl. She’s had a lonely life – her mother died when she was very young and her father pretty much ignored her. Then finally, she found someone who paid attention to her and she was sure she was in love with him. So, she staged a scene where she was to be discovered and ruined so her father would allow her to marry Robert. However, her father was sure Robert was a fortune hunter, so instead of forcing a marriage, he sent her to America to stay with her Aunt and Uncle. He fully expected her to find a husband there.
Nora is one very stubborn lady and is determined to come up with a plot that will force her father to call her home. Her solution – find the absolutely biggest rake and profligate she can find and forge a ‘fake’ engagement with him. She needs someone who is so totally unacceptable that her father will call her home immediately.
While out to dinner with her aunt and uncle, Nora keeps hearing loud clomps coming from the ceiling. Was the place going to fall down around their ears? No, it was just Julius Hatcher and his friends having a party on the second floor. Aha! Julius Hatcher is just the man she needs!
She manages to sneak up to the second floor to corner Mr. Hatcher and make him a proposition he just can’t refuse. Her first glimpse of the party is priceless. There are 20 men on horses – in the ballroom – they were in black evening suits, silk hats, and eating off trays secured to saddles. After a brief conversation, Julius falls off his horse, onto the floor, passed out dead drunk at her feet. Oh! Yes! He was exactly the man she needed.
Julius Hatcher is one of the richest men in New York and he has earned every dime of that money himself. He came from humble beginnings and an uncaring family. His mother actually seemed to hate him because he was successful. Julius’ father had been a trusting man who believed that a handshake was as good as a contract – and then he got into a deal with some Knickerbockers and lost all of the family money. Julius wanted revenge for that and needed entry to the upper echelons of society. So, he had his own reasons for accepting Nora’s proposal.
You’ll love Aunt Bea – she is a sharp and crafty old lady. She’s just an older, craftier version of Nora.
I loved the banter and one of my favorite things was when Julius told Nora, “You cannot bring the tiger indoors and expect him to act as a house cat, my lady.”
Julius and Nora have a lot to overcome, but they are drawn to each other. Can each of them overcome their pasts to forge a happy future? You’ll just have to read this delightful book to find out!
“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”