Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #3
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Parth Sterling and Lavinia Gray have been at odds since the day they met, but when Lavinia learns that her mother is not only addicted to laudanum but has spent their entire fortune AND stole money and jewels from her ward, she is desperate for a rich husband and decides Parth is just the man for the job.
Parth has lived with the Wilde family since he was five years old, his parents lived in India and sent him to England as a ward to the duke. His family died and the Wildes have made him one of their own. Through hard work, Parth has built a fortune and is now one of the richest men in England. He is beyond shocked when Lavinia asks him to marry her, an offer he quickly refuses. Before he can get answers, she apologizes and leaves. Later that day he reveals that he is going to marry and is going to London to woo his bride – a widowed contessa named Elisa. Lavinia feels ill at the news, but it turns out she really is ill, Parth scoops her up and takes her to her room. Over the next few days, he helps care for her and tells her he will help her find a husband.
Lavinia slowly recovers from her illness and learns that Aunt Knowe has sent her mother to a manor to overcome her addiction. Lavinia worries about her mother’s theft and the debts, but decides to take charge of Diana’s trousseau. Diana, Lady Knowe and Lavinia travel to London and Lavinia is delighted to discover that vendors are willing to pay her a commission for having the future duchess’ business. She loves fashion and is in her glory designing and managing Diana’s and several members of the Wilde families wardrobes. She is still embarrassed about her proposal to Parth and tries to avoid him. But when she runs into him at a vendors shop with his soon to be betrothed in tow, she is forced to act nonchalant. She is also surprised to learn how much she likes Elisa. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, she slips out for a breath of air and is confronted by Parth – he is upset that she is out in the rain so soon after her illness. He is insulting to her, but not on purpose, he is just incredibly blunt and tactless. Their argument ends when he kisses her.
When another argument leads to another kiss, Parth has changed his mind, he wants Lavinia, not Elisa. Lavinia tries to avoid Parth, especially after Lady Knowe and Diana return to the country and leaving her to tie up things with Diana’s trousseau. Lavinia refuses his offer of escort back to the castle. She thinks of him constantly, but like everyone else, thinks he is going to marry Elisa.
She returns to Lindow and throws herself into her work, Parth inserts himself into her life, making sure she rests and eats. They form a friendship and begin to learn more about each other. When things between them turn heated, she agrees to marry him. He is elated, but must return to London. He says he will return with Elisa before the wedding. She misses him and knows she should have told him the truth about her mother, but is consumed with the work that needs to be done for Diana’s wedding gown.
When Parth returns, eager to see her, he overhears the end of a conversation between Lavinia and Diana. He is hurt by what he hears and seeks out North instead. When she finally sees him, he is distant and cold. They have a fight and she tells him that she has changed her mind and will not marry him.
She flees the castle and goes to see her mother. Parth follows, he knows he messed up and is frantic to repair the damage. But Lavinia is firm, he doesn’t respect her and thinks she is shallow, she cannot marry a man like that. He learns the truth about her mother and bows to Lavina’s request and leaves, but this is not over.
He returns with reinforcements and presses his case. She is still set on refusing him, but when her mother disappears, Parth is the person she turns to for help. When thinks take a violent turn, Parth finally gets his chance to prove his feelings to Lavinia, but is it too late?
This was a great story, I will be honest, I was a bit unsure that I would like it once I learned he planned to marry Elisa and thought this might devolve into a angsty love triangle, but instead I was delightfully surprised with how Ms. James handled the situation and even ended up hoping that she finds a match for Elisa! The book has a lot of witty banter, many amusing scenes, a bit of heartache, steamy love scenes and a sigh worthy ending.
This is the third book in the series, but I think it could be read as a standalone with no problem, however, I have read all three books and feel that my reading experience with this book was enriched by reading the books in order.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher.*