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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Lady Belinda Featherstone is a happy widow. Though her marriage was a painful experience (she loved him, but he was only in it for her money), her husbands death pushed her into the world of matchmaking, something she is quite talented at. Now, she is a respectable member of British society, assisting young American heiresses in making smart matches. So it was nothing out of the ordinary when Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, winds up on her doorstep asking for her assistance. The problem? Well, Trubridge is only marrying because his father has cut him off and he needs money. To Belinda's eye, he is a fortune hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of making it easy to trap some poor naive heiress into matrimony just so he can replenish his coffers. With the decree that she is not only refusing to help him, but will actively attempt to ruin his prospects, the gauntlet has been thrown. Will Nicholas find a wealthy heiress to marry? Or will Belinda stand in his way?
Belinda is my favorite kind of historical romance heroine, sassy and mouthy, but still able to conform to societies expectations when in public. She's managed to create quite a reputation as a matchmaker, the good kind of reputation. She's built her personal fortune by helping American heiresses find matches with titled peers and she is an excellent judge of character. However that ability to accurately judge most people with a cursory glance means she trusts her opinion and doesn't really realize that she can be wrong at times. She immediately sees Nicholas as a scoundrel who is exactly like her late husband and refuses to even consider that she is wrong....until it's inescapable.
Nicholas was a character I could identify with a little too well. He's broke and he has to do something to keep himself afloat because he can't subsist on air and sunshine. He has to marry well because the only other option is an occupation. The fact that titled men don't have normal jobs doesn't bother him as much as the fact that he has no such training for any jobs. Who would hire him at a wage that he could keeping living in the style he is accustomed to for what meager skills he has? A feeling I understand all too well....but ANYWAY, marrying is the only resort. He intends to be as honest about it as possible with the chit lucky (or unlucky) enough to be his bride, going into the marriage all his cards on the table. Why Belinda is so eager to put him in the shoes of her deceased husband, he has no idea. Sure, he has the reputation of a rake, one he quite enjoyed building, but he has no intention of tricking some poor infatuated girl into matrimony. And it doesn't help that he compares every society airhead to Belinda and they all come up short. But marrying Belinda is out of the question....isn't it?
The banter and wit between these two had me grinning like a maniac for the entire novel. It's got all the good parts of a romance with a lower level of angst than most of the recently published book. I loved everyone bit of it. I love Belinda's stubborn nature and Nicholas's determination to win her respect and how well they fit together. It has just the right amount of fluff to keep me happy. Oh, who am I kidding, I'd be happy with nothing but fluff.
This is exactly what you would expect from Laura Lee Guhrke, a love story with wit and charm and the fated happily ever after. What more do you need?