A marriage of convenience - or of destiny? Gerard de Lacey is determined to find the man who is blackmailing his family, but with his inheritance and status at risk, a hasty marriage to a wealthy bride also seems in order - just in case things take a turn for the worse. Charismatic and capable, Gerard knows he can win the hand of any lady he chooses. Still, he's not expecting a rich widow to find him and propose the very thing he wants: a marriage of convenience. Katherine Howe's first marriage was one of dreary duty. Now that she's being pressured to marry her late husband's heir, she's desperate for a better option. Gerard de Lacey, with his sinful good looks, charming manner, and looming scandal, fits her needs perfectly. The fact that she's nursed a secret affection for him only makes it better - and worse. Because Gerard will likely marry her for her fortune - but can he love her for herself, as she loves him?
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This is a delightful follow-on to One Night in London, part of The Truth About the Duke trilogy. The three deLacey brothers, sons of the late Duke of Durham, are trying to find a blackmailer and secure evidence to show whether their father was a bigamist. If he was, they will be considered bastards and lose virtually all of their inheritance.
What I Liked • Captain Lord Gerard deLacey. He's handsome (of course), brash, adventurous, and loyal. He's the youngest son, serving in the wars against Napoleon. Under any circumstances his fortune will be relatively small, so he's decided to be on the lookout for a rich bride while he travels to Bath to track down information on the blackmailer. When a perfectly strange wealthy woman proposes a marriage of convenience, he barely hesitates before deciding to take on the challenge.
• Kate deLacey. You can't help but feel sorry for her at first. She's hardly had an enjoyable life, despite her wealth. Her vain, narcissistic mother has convinced her she's too plain to attract a man and had married her off to a middle-aged viscount, who ignored and abused her. Now that he's dead, her mother is pressuring her to marry the viscount's odious heir, convinced that nobody better will ever come along. Kate is such a doormat that she doubts her ability to withstand her mother's pressure. The most enjoyable part of the book is watching her emerge from her shell, in response to Gerard's kindness and attention. She doesn't become a "beauty," but rather simply a beautiful person.
• Sexytimes. Gerard wants to break down Kate's defenses, and she discovers her previously unknown wanton side. Excellent love scenes.
• The love story. Kate harbors a childhood passion for Gerard, but he has no memory of meeting her. Linden does an excellent job of showing Gerard's surprise and wonder as he gradually finds himself falling in love with his wife. This is just a very sweet story.
What I Didn't Like • Not a lot of progress is made toward resolving the mystery, but after the first book, I came to realize that it wouldn't be wrapped up until the third.
• As a 21st century woman, I often have trouble understanding an 19th century woman's desperation to get married. Linden mentions several times that a widow was almost as independent as a man, so it was difficult to see why Kate thought marriage, or death, was her only way to avoid the odious heir. It was hard to believe that she was so cowed by her mother. She was so spineless in this regard, but yet showed great spirit elsewhere.
These two volumes of The Truth About the Duke were my first Caroline Linden reads, and I find her writing crisp and witty. She does not indulge in one of my pet peeves, namely using an abundance of one-word sentences and one-sentence paragraphs. It's a pleasure to read someone who knows and uses the English language so well.
Gildart Jackson does a quite good job as narrator. His male voices are wonderful, but his ladies are a bit too falsetto for me.