The Marquess Move by Valerie Bowman
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Whitmorelands, #2
Release Date: April 25, 2023
When her father dies Madeline Atwood has two choices to fulfill her promise to him to always care for her younger sister Molly, the first is to marry her vile cousin and the second is to go into service, and she chooses the latter. She becomes a lady’s maid to Lady Henrietta Hazelton. She tries to be content with her lot, but on the night of the Hazelton’s annual Twelfth Night Ball arrive, she can’t help but think of all she has lost and decides to sneak into the ball just to have a taste of what she is missing. But instead of the ballroom, she ducks into a drawing room and meets a handsome man, and shares a dance with him before running back to her room berating herself for her reckless behavior. Fast forward a year, and she hasn’t stopped thinking of her handsome stranger and even though doing so is a risk, she borrows another gown from her employer’s wardrobe as well as a pair of diamond earrings and returns to the place where she met him last year. To her shock and surprise, he is there again and this time they share a kiss before she runs off, but this year her luck runs out and she is fired when her employer finds out. But fate has plans for her and she finds herself employed by the sister of her mystery man!
Justin Whitmoreland, the Marquess of Whitmore only attended the Hazelton’s ball to help his brother-in-law, he never expected to meet a beautiful and mysterious stranger while hiding from desperate debutantes with marriage on the brain! That meeting is the reason he has returned to the ball this year and when he finds her again he is elated, but when she takes off again after a mind-altering kiss, he tries to find her and then decides it is probably for the best, as he isn’t ready to marry and doesn’t want a love match anyway. But when his efforts to find her end with her employed in his household as his sister’s lady’s maid – he knows he is in trouble. Because as hard as they try to behave, sparks fly when they are together and Justin believes that it can only end in heartbreak, fortunately for this star-crossed couple, his sisters think otherwise.
Based on the blurb, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book and I was worried it might be angsty or even creepy – but thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Madeline and Justin share an intense chemistry, yet for different reasons, they both believed that love was not for them. The result of their erroneous beliefs was a charming story filled with wonderful characters, steamyish love scenes, forbidden attraction, secrets, a hero who needed a wakeup call (and got it), blackmail, a nasty debutante that gets her comeuppance, sisters who know better, expert level groveling, and a HEA with an ending that nicely sets up the next book. This is the second book in the series, and it could be read as a standalone title, but I would recommend reading the series in order for the best reader experience.
*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.*