Series: The Holidays of the Aristocracy #2
Publication Date: 3/2/21
This was first released as part of the Have Yourself A Merry Little Secret boxed set in October of 2020 and is now being released as a standalone. It is a lovely and fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed – especially when I get two romances within one book! The writing is excellent and the story is interesting and well-plotted. I’m hoping to see more books featuring the Marquess of Reading’s children – particularly the illegitimate ones – all I can say is that he is one fertile dude!
Randall Roderick, the Marquess of Reading has seven – soon to be eight – children. In his younger years, he was a rake extraordinaire. He dropped his seed anywhere and everywhere. While we may dislike him for his indiscriminate fathering of children, he always took responsibility for them, he gave them his name, he saw to their care and upkeep, and he always played a role in their lives as much as he could. He met and fell in love with his marchioness about seven years ago and has given up his rakish ways. Now, in addition to his four illegitimate sons and one illegitimate daughter, he has two legitimate sons and one child on the way.
Randolph Roderick is the oldest of the illegitimate children. He is the spitting image of his father in looks and the exact opposite in the way he conducts his life. He manages one of his father’s breeding/training stables and he also works for the Foreign Office – and that job got him a knighthood. He’s now Sir Randolph Roderick. He is also a widower with a baby. Luckily, he and his father are fairly close and the baby, Charlie, is sharing the nursery with his uncle Robert, who is 2 years old. Everyone except Randolph seems to know he needs a wife and Charlie needs a mother. Little does he know that Juliet Comber, the wife of one of his friends, has decided to do some matchmaking between several of her friends.
Xenobia Dunsworth is the widow of a baron. It wasn’t a love match, but they had been good friends all of their lives. Sadly, that friendship didn’t really translate well into the marriage. Xenobia is just days out of mourning when she is visited by her very good friends – Lady Julia Comber and Lady Caroline Chamberlain. Julia realizes how very lonely and sad Xenobia is – and she decides to do something about it.
Rachel Roderick is the younger illegitimate sister of Randolph, but neither of them knows about the other. Rachel attended finishing school in Zurich with Julia and Xenobia, but she stayed on longer than they did. Now, she is back. Her mother and, unbeknownst to Rachel, her father plan for her to have a season. Rachel has no hopes of finding a good match among the ton even though her father has fully acknowledged her. You see, her mother is a famed courtesan who now owns the very popular and successful gaming hell and brothel called the Queen of Hearts. If the ton ever found out who her mother is, they’d shun her totally. Rachel believes she’ll just remain unmarried and become a spinster. But then fate intervenes, in the guise of Julia Comber.
Mark Merriweather is the younger son of an earl and his older brother has already married and sired an heir. Mark doesn’t have to worry about inheriting the earldom and he plans to lead a productive life. He has an inheritance and doesn’t have to worry about working at anything if he doesn’t want to do so, but he does. He has purchased a public house, The Three Bells, in Westminster and fully plans to run it himself. It never occurs to him that he is in need of a wife – he only knows he’s in need of a bookkeeper and a cook for the public house. Then, there is a visit with Julia Comber and the rest is history.
It was fun to see these two couples come together. Each of them perfectly complemented their partner and filled the voids they each had. In this story, we got two romances, lots of found money, families who loved each other, and a bit of intrigue with counterfeiters. I hope you’ll read this book and enjoy it as much as I did.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.