I absolutely adored Martin and Julia/Jules in this delightfully entertaining book. They were lovely, lovely people – both separate and together. While Julia’s plight is a dire one, there is no angst or poor-pitiful-me involved. She accepts whatever is thrown in her way with intelligence, resilience, determination, good humor, and good grace. The writing is excellent, the story is well-plotted, and I liked everything about it.
Lady Julia St.Vincent, daughter of the Earl of Brixham, is desperate. Her father has drunk and gambled his entire fortune away and is deeply in debt to the vile moneylender, Silas Skinner. Not only is there no money left, but her father also is gravely ill, and the deed to their only remaining property, Huntly Manor, is in Skinner’s hands as collateral. With no marriage prospects and no living family, it is up to Julia to save them. Since she’s been acting as her father’s steward for the last five years, she’ll just ‘become’ a man and seek a position. So, Julia becomes Jules Smallwood, a very astute and capable steward to the Duke of Dunscaby. At least this will allow her to make payments on the money her father owes Skinner – and to pay for her father’s care.
Martin MacGalloway, Duke of Dunscaby, has led a carefree bachelor life in London until his father died. Now, it is up to him to grow the family fortunes and assure that his siblings have the wherewithal to support themselves in the future. His first order of business was to acquire a new steward but he definitely didn’t know what to make of the one his Man of Business sent him. He is a tiny, effeminate little man, but he is quite good at his job and Martin can and will toughen him up. He’ll just take him hunting, and maybe drinking, boxing, and skirt-chasing, that will definitely toughen the little fellow up.
Jules is an outstanding steward and Martin is very satisfied with the job he does. Jules has even come up with a way for Martin’s brothers – Gibb, Andrew, Philip, and Frederick – to assure a solid financial future. Everything goes smoothly for Jules – until the duke decides to go to London and take Jules with him. Even that would have been okay – except – there was this masquerade ball and Julia did so love dancing. What can one evening dressing as herself hurt? Uh-Oh. Martin is also at the masquerade and becomes entranced with Julia. How can she play both Julia and Jules?
You’ll love the lighthearted and entertaining story – even during the rare times when it isn’t. The interactions where Martin is trying to make a man of Jules are priceless – and the interactions where he is drawn to Julia are heartwarming. The supporting characters – mostly Martin’s sisters – Charity, Grace, and Modesty – were really fun additions to the story.
I highly recommend this book and cannot wait for the next one in the series, Her Unconventional Earl, that features Charity and will release next January. I hope you’ll read this book and love 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.