Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Lions and the Lilies, #1
Release Date: September 27, 2022
After the death of her father, Joanna “Jo” Porter moved her family to London and started a matchmaking service. Over the years, her reputation for excellent matches has grown and she is now very sought-after and is able to support her family. If that means that she is destined to be alone, so be it, at least her dearest friend and companion, Lilly has made a love match and is expecting a proposal any day. But when Lilly’s beau Charles suddenly ends their courtship, Lilly is heartbroken and Jo is furious. Jo confronts Charles and learns the truth – he loves Lilly, but he is broke and has five sisters to dower, so he needs a rich bride, but sadly, Lilly has no dowry, so he broke things off with her. Jo understands his dilemma, but she is heartbroken for Lilly. But when Matthew Leighton, the Duke of Crestmont hires Jo to find him a “perfect duchess” and insists that he doesn’t believe in love and he certainly isn’t looking for a love match, Jo wonders if she can kill two birds with one stone by matching the duke with Charles’ sister, Harriet, she would make a perfect duchess, and then Charles will be able to marry Lilly – it’s perfect! What could possibly go wrong?
Matthew is intrigued by the matchmaker and to his complete surprise, he finds himself telling her things that he has only told his closest friends. He tells her of hobbies and his parent’s death and his grief, he even tells her of the girl who pulled him out of despair, showed him love, and then crushed his heart all over again, when his uncle revealed her deception. Heartbroken once again, Matthew decided then and there, that there would be no love for him, but he needs an heir and for that, he needs a wife and he decides that Harriet will make an acceptable duchess. Jo can’t believe that he doesn’t want love and hopes that he will find love with Harriet. But the more time they spend together, the more they dread his eventual betrothal to Harriet. Will Matthew let his heart take a chance on love or will the past repeat itself and leave him heartbroken yet again?
This was a well-written, fast-paced story with a familiar trope, wrapped in fresh ideas. Jo and Matthew are both very likable characters and have instant chemistry. I really enjoyed Matthew’s hobbies of rowing and meteorology – those are things that I don’t recall ever reading about before and it was an interesting and fun change from the “norm”. This book is filled with secrets, great secondary characters, steamy love scenes, the most uncomfortable chair in London, a little heartache, a duke getting a dressing down, and finally a HEA complete with an epilogue. This was a fun start to a new series and now I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series and wonder who will be the next Rowing Club Lion to find their HEA!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*