The Viscount Who Vexed Me by Julia London
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: A Royal Match, #3
Release Date: May 23, 2023
After attending the Iddesleigh School of Exceptional Girls as a scholarship student, Miss Harriet “Hattie” Woodchurch started working right away, she worked as a bookkeeper to a local confectioner and acted as a companion of sorts to a former classmate and friend Miss Flora Raney, daughter of Viscount Raney. Hattie’s own family is a source of annoyance and embarrassment to her, her father is a wealthy man who is cheap and refuses to spend money on his only daughter, yet her mother is a compulsive collector, who has filled their modest home with grandfather clocks, tea services, and dress forms, and cats. Her older brother Daniel is a rake with a terrible reputation and her younger twin brothers are troublemakers. She began working in hopes of one day escaping her family, but that was before she met Rupert Masterson, her secret fiancé, now she plans to marry him and leave her family to become his partner in all things, including his business. So when her friend Flora mentions the arrival of the Santiavan duke to London to claim his English grandfather’s title of Viscount Abbott and settle his estates, and most likely selecting an English wife, she is not overly interested, that is until Flora breaks some bad news to her. Rupert asked Flora to have Hattie jilt him as he can’t marry into her family. Horrified, humiliated, and hurt, Hattie tries to act as if this news hasn’t broken her heart. Now more than ever she needs to get away from her family. So when Lord Iddesleigh invites her to tea and offers her a job working as a secretary to the new Lord Abbott, she is happy to accept. But Lord Abbott is not what she was expecting, he is stoic, reserved, and drop-dead gorgeous, it is enough to make a girl wish for things that can never be. They form a friendship, which makes things harder when it becomes clear that Flora is one of the women he is courting, and Flora wants her “insider” help in winning his proposal.
Mateo “Teo” Vincente, the sovereign Duke of Santiava and now the English Viscount Abbott, is having a hard time settling his grandfather’s estate, because although his spoken English is flawless, reading the language is not that easy for him, thus the need for a scribe. But Hattie is not what was expecting, she is vibrant, intelligent, and sticks up for herself – not to mention she gets prettier each time he sees her. Socializing is torture for him, but Hattie is like a port in the storm, helping him find a bit of calm. He becomes comfortable with her and shares his interest in baking and astronomy with her and a friendship is born. But soon it is clear that the only woman he wants to marry is the one woman he can’t or can he?
This was a terrific story with very likable characters, although I have to say that I don’t think I have ever felt as bad as I did for any heroine before Hattie – how she didn’t have a breakdown is beyond me, because each time I thought, this is as bad as it is going to get, it got worse and she was handed more pain and/or humiliation. I can’t think of a heroine who deserved a HEA more than Hattie, and let me tell you, she worked for it. This story is filled with emotion and features a much-beleaguered heroine, a shy, stoic hero, truly awful relatives, a well-meaning matchmaker, good friends, bad friends, surprising betrayals, warm kisses, twists and turns aplenty, and finally, a HEA that you didn’t even see coming. The story is not perfect and to enjoy the story, I had to force myself to accept the author’s convoluted version of primogeniture in regards to inheritance through the female line, as well as ignoring the fact that he is a sovereign duke but is addressed as my lord – since he is an English Viscount and is in England – cringe. I also would have liked a bit more steam, but that’s just my preference and the story is fine without it. This is the third book in the series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I am happy to recommend, and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
*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.*