Hero: Lucas Colebrook, the new Earl of Stonevale, needs an heiress to finance the repairs of his crumbling estate and projects to revitalize the lands. He goes to his former love, the perfect paragon of society, Jessica (I can’t recall her last name.) She presents him with two choices – a young woman just out of the schoolroom (almost an exact replica of Jessica) or the very independent Victoria Huntington. Lucas knows instantly which heiress he’d prefer and strategizes how to win her. His conclusion is to give her exactly what she thinks she wants.
Heroine: Victoria Huntington, heiress, orphan, has fought off fortune hunters since being in leading strings. She’s even had suitors for her friend investigated by Bow Street Runners! Not easily fooled, Victoria knows if she waits just a little while longer, her status of spinsterhood will be sealed and the real adventures of life can begin. But she doesn’t really wish to wait – she wants to experience it all now and accepts Lucas’s escort through these experiences.
Review: Victoria is wildly reckless with her reputation and that of her friend’s. She doesn’t seem to truly grasp the consequences of any one of her little escapades. It off-balances the intelligence she seems to have regarding men. Lucas manages to distract her with what she wants – from adventures to watch boxing matches in the wee hours of the night or trips to brothels dressed as a man – and so escape her notice as another fortune hunter. He’s able to do this because Jessica is circulating that he’s due to receive a huge influx of funds. So, I have little sympathy when Vicky bemoans getting caught in the parson’s trap.
Lucas is patient and protective. His scheme is manipulative, but his intentions are roughly pure. He wants to aid his tenets and bring prosperity back to the region. I loved his stodginess and how it played with Vicky’s recklessness. They rub off on each other. He becomes a little less stodgy and she a little less reckless. I loved how he’d climb garden walls for her even with a wounded leg. Very romantic.
In the novel, he decides quickly he wants Vicky for more than her money, but doesn’t reveal his true need for the wedding until it is much too late. On their wedding day, before their wedding trip, Jessica reveals all to Vicky in an attempt to beg kindness for Lucas. What a little viper! Jessica is not a paragon – she’s clearly manipulative and while her words don’t endear her to hero or heroine, there’s no true repercussion. Vicky takes it out on Lucas instead of Jessica… and then in the end the couple uses Jessica once more. I find that very odd.
Narrator: Anne Flosnik is one of my favorite narrators. I liked listening to her immensely.
Buy: Surrender, Surrender
Hero: Earl of Huntdon needs an heiress, which means marriage, but he won’t fall in love! Wounded before, Devon is angry and devastated to learn his heiress isn’t nearly so wealthy as he thought. The wife who was to bring much needed financial aid has now become an additional burden, Devon must shoulder. With all his responsibilities, love can’t possibly matter now.
Heroine: Miss Georgina (Gina) Pierce is an American heiress from the South. Or she was. She didn’t know about the turn her father’s finances took. Her father insisted she marry and damn if he wasn’t going to snag her a title to show those snobby Knickerbockers his daughter was more than good enough, she was great. When her father passes, the reality is dumped on them both. Now Gina must find a way to pay Devon back – and clearly he does not want her heart.
Review: So the big shocker here is that Devon has kids from his first marriage and doesn’t share that fact with Gina. Um…. The guy is extremely lucky Gina wants kids or he’d be so screwed. Gina is the glue to the relationship and the story. Devon had a very difficult first marriage, and while he has many noble qualities, he didn’t do it for me. Devon is a beta hero in many respects.
Narrator: Vanessa Hart surprised me immediately, because the audio book summary didn’t reveal that Gina was American. I was expecting a British speaker, not a husky southern drawl. I also get the feeling I’ve listened to her before somewhere.
Buy: To Marry an Heiress
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The Story: New York City heiress, Winnifred Percy, has been very good about slipping through fortune hunter and marriage seeking fingers. A lie here or there and soon her suitors would disappear. This is exactly was Winn wants because in a few short years she’ll gain full control over the fortune left to her by an ex-prostitute. She longs to see the world and means to explore it with the funds as soon as she can.
That dream is snatched away when one day her father announces her engagement to the Earl of Wolshingham, David Knightbridge. This alliance was created in hopes that David’s peerage connections would do business with the father while at the same time providing David with the means to refurbish his moldering estate back in Great Britain. Like Winn, David is also angry, he was hoping for a loan, not a bride!
But when Winnifred tries to throw him off, David won’t budge. She can curse, smoke, and read all the naughty French diaries she wants, but she will become his bride, unless scandal marks them first.
Review: The premise of the story is cute, and I always like arranged marriages that force the hero and heroine together to work things out, but I found the execution lacking. I had a hard time reconciling both the hero and the heroine to their actions. David in particular at the beginning came across as a bullying beta male trying to be alpha. He gropes the heroine in the first meeting and forces on her a kiss. It wasn’t passionate as much as it was him trying to exert his authority over her, who he thought originally a well-loved tart, and the situation in general. It was a knee-to-groin worthy moment. He changes for the better eventually, but as a hero his first actions colored my view of him for the worse.
Buy: The Bartered Virgin
Abigail Wendover is a spinster at age twenty-eight. Upon her return from out of town she gets some distressing news… her niece is head over heels with a fortune hunter, a Lord Stacey Calverleigh. He is a clever handsome young gentleman intent on wooing the impressionable Miss Fanny right out of her inheritance.
When she goes to confront him, she winds up yelling at Miles Calverleigh, his estranged uncle. Miles is beguiled by her immediately and she in turn is deeply amused by him, so much so she actually breaks out into giggles, which is so unlike her. He does not see her as a spinster at all and finds her fresh, lively, and entertaining. All she sees however is a lack of interest and a wicked gleam in his eyes.
Miles is the perpetual teaser. He enjoys getting a rise out Abby. The two of them share the same sense of humor. The dialogue is very witty and charming. Heyer imbues the heroines narrative with the same clever engaging style.
The plot and its characters are easily followed, which could be a plus or minus depending on the reader and where they stand on Heyers.
It’s a May/December if you haven’t noticed. The hero is notably older than the heroine but clues make it hard to distinguish where he’s in his 40s or 50s. I doubt he’s in his 30s, but whatever age he is he markets himself like a middle age man.
Spoiler: My favorite scene is the finale where he kidnaps her in his carriage and whisks her off to the altar.
Buy: Black Sheep
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There is a lot going on in this story and it all wraps up neatly but it makes you wonder how on earth Victoria Alexander managed to cram it all in. There are four couples, 2 older and 2 younger, that are navigating their way through love. One is between the hero and heroine, one is between the younger sister of the heroine and the hero’s partner, one is the heroine’s parents (her mother is involved in a love triangle between the father and an old flame), and the last is the old flame and the hero’s widowed mother. It was general craziness all around. I would have been happier with a more condensed romance and less with all the shenanigans.
Quite a few good lines are scattered throughout the pages and the hero’s mother’s tests for the heroine were pretty good if a little batty. I was disconnected for most of the second half of the novel from the events as they all came to a head. It took me a few days to read through it. The last 30-50 pages was devoted to a weak misunderstanding between the hero and heroine. Where the story should have resolved in drama on a high note with the fire, Alexander continued it far out past it’s expiration date until it dwindled into nothingness as the story exhausted itself.
Cecily White, Cece to friends and family, believes a man should work to make his money not simply marry into wealth. She despises fortune hunters, and no fortune hunter more so than the Earl of Graystone who broke her friend’s heart. Tricking him into falling in love with her and then breaking his heart should be easy and was a perfect excuse to escape a normal life of marriage and kids into one of adventure and freelance writing.
Jared Grayson is a wonderful diversion. Cece meets him and the penniless automobile inventor sweeps her away with his enthusiasm. Changing her plans to follow the unexpected patterings of her heart, Cece follows him to France where he dumps her by the Eiffel Tower. Little does she know that Jared Grayon is really the Earl of Graystone and that when he left her in Paris to return to his search for an heiress that he was leaving his heart in her hands.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Buy: The Princess & the Pea
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