How to Best a Marquess by Janna MacGregor
Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: The Widow Rules, #3
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Once upon a time, Heiress Miss Blythe “Beth” Howell and Julian Raleah, the Earl of Weyhill and heir to the Marquess of Grayson planned to marry, but when her brother refuses Julian’s suit, he leaves her life without another word and breaks her heart. Now eight years later, Beth is one of three women who were wedded, bedded then duped, and discarded by trigamist Lord Merriweather “Meri” Vareck. And while his first two “wives” were each left something when Meri unexpectedly died, Beth was left with nothing except a bunch of receipts. When her lout of a brother tries to force her into another marriage, she becomes determined to retrace Meri’s final steps and retrieve her dowry – she turns to her former beau for help – offering him half of whatever she finds in exchange for his escort and helping her find her missing dowry. When Julian, now the Marquess of Grayson, refuses, arguing her reputation would be ruined and she would be shunned, she points out that marrying a man that was already married to two other women destroyed her reputation, and since she never plans to marry again, it doesn’t matter anyway. She asks him to think about it and give her an answer at the wedding of a mutual friend in a few days. She leaves hopeful and trying to ignore the feelings that being close to Julian again brought out in her.
Julian was heartbroken when Beth’s brother refused his suit and called him a fortune hunter and then threatened to buy up his father’s debts and ruin them if Julian didn’t walk away from Beth. With no other choice, he walked away, but he never gave up hoping that one day they could be together. But the years have been hard on both of them and Julian is still as penniless as he ever was, but things are looking up as an investment consortium is considering financing his steam engine. If successful, he will never have to worry about money again and finally, he will be in a position to offer for Beth with no fear of retribution from her brother. He has every intention of refusing to escort Beth when his contact at the consortium implies that Julian may have to make other models of the engine and wants to make sure he can afford to do so – He can’t. Again faced with no choice, he agrees to accompany her. He then decides to use the time to woo her and hopefully change her mind about marriage.
This was a story that I have read before, but the author did manage to put a new twist on their separation, instead of using the most common trope of misunderstanding or a third party lying to keep them apart, Julian readily admits to cutting ties with her to save his family. Because of this and her invalid marriage, I did understand why Beth was disillusioned with men and marriage, but she really bore that cross a lot longer than she had to, and it got annoying and tiresome, yet the author held fast to that plot device until almost the very end of the book – sigh. Then there was their intimate relationship – or their attempts at an intimate relationship. It was funny at first that every time they started to get physical, they were interrupted, but that too was overused and got annoying after about the fifth time, and even when the characters commented on the fact that they were always being interrupted, the author still kept using it – sigh. So by the time they finally completed the act, I was done and didn’t even care, I just wanted the book to be over. This book had a lot going on and except for the couple of annoying things I mentioned, it was a good book featuring a road trip, a charming valet, great secondary characters, highwaymen, rotten relatives, longing, betrayal, a bit of angst, a little heartache, surprising discoveries, a kidnapping attempt, a girl with a gun who is not afraid to use it, the turning of tables, a character determined to be a martyr, and friends who convince them to give love a second chance leading to a HEA complete with a very odd, yet interesting epilogue. This was the third and final book in the series, but I didn’t read the first two books and had no problem figuring out the backstory. For me this book was OK, I enjoyed the idea of the story and liked the ending, even though I was annoyed that certain things dragged on until practically the end of the book, but I wouldn’t read it again.
*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.*