It is a treat to read this author’s books because you always get TWO romances. This time it features two brothers – one with a bankrupted Earldom and one a wounded war hero. The ladies are both strong, intelligent, fun-loving, and well – 😊 – RICH. The characters are delightful, witty, and fully formed and you will love getting to know them.
The weather just hasn’t been kind to the English aristocracy for the last few years. They’ve had too much rain and crop yields are way down, putting many of the titles in dun territory. James Audley, the Earl of Leicester, is one of those aristocrats and since he’s exhausted all of his other options, he knows he’ll have to marry an heiress. The Marquess of Huntsford has just such a daughter – Stephanie – and her dowry is £100,000. The fact that she’s a Diamond of the First Water doesn’t hurt either. James sets off for Cambridge to propose – and gets some distressing news along the way. Things aren’t going well anyway because his coach loses a wheel along the way – forcing him to spend money he can ill afford. There is one bright spot near his destination though – he sees a lovely young woman walking along the road and stops to offer her a ride. She declines, of course, so he decides to walk along with her to assure she reaches her destination safely.
Lady Eloise Wilson, the second daughter of the Marquess of Huntsford, is just a little bit hoyden and a little bit tired of always being overlooked by her parents. Because she is not as biddable and perfect as her older sister, Stephanie, she is always arguing with her mother. There has been a steady stream of suitors coming to their estate to seek Stephanie’s hand – and frankly – Eloise is a bit amused by it. When a handsome aristocrat stops his coach and offers her a ride to her destination, she declines. She is sure he is yet another suitor for Stephanie, but then he denies it and gets out to walk alongside her. Hmmmmm – he is handsome.
Captain Charles Audley nearly died at Waterloo. After several months in a field hospital, he survived and finally returned to England. He’s crippled, but at least he kept his leg and he can still walk with the aid of crutches or a cane. He has horrid memories of the days and days and days of pain in that hospital, but – in those memories is also the memory of the nurse he thought of as Angel. He never knew who she was, but often dreamed of her. No matter, he’d never marry because he has no prospects and he’d never saddle someone with being married to a cripple.
Amy Sinclair accompanied her father, Colonel Elias Sinclair when he went back to join the fight against Napoleon. Waterloo saw the field hospital in which she was working quickly fill with badly injured soldiers. She was often covered in their blood as she assisted the doctors in surgery or changed their bandages. There was one patient who held her attention. He was in so much pain and she just wanted to relieve his suffering – which she did – in a most unusual way. She knows who he is, but wonders if she’ll ever know what happens to him. Then, the unthinkable – her father, who survived Waterloo just fine, contracted a fever and died. She made the arrangements and brought her father’s body home for burial only to find her mother had made an appointment for her to meet Mrs. Bessie Dove of the Lyons Den. Her mother was marrying her off – almost immediately!
I loved watching these two couples come to care for each other and find their HEA. I will warn you – there are some astronomical sums of money (for that period) changing hands in this book. For instance – Eloise’s dowry was £100,000 – which in today’s money would be £9,487,201.25: The Audley’s old aunt routinely took £5,000 with her to card games – in today’s money that would be £474,360.06: A broken coach wheel cost £20 to replace/repair – which is £1,897.44 today (that is some flat tire!).
I thoroughly enjoyed the read and hope you will as well.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.