Published April 17, 2012.
Genre: historical romance
Everyone loves a wedding. The quiet country girl. The sophisticated member of the ton. A graceful duchess. Follow these charming ladies and their handsome suitors on their journeys down the aisles of England's grand cathedrals and castles as they make-and break-society's most sacred rules.
Rules of Engagement
A lady shall never be caught unchaperoned with a stranger.
A gentleman shall never flirt with a lady below his social standing.
A lady shall never waltz with a man to whom she is not promised.
And above all, an engagement shall not be consummated before the marriage ceremony!
Stephanie Laurens – The reasons for Marriage
The first book in the Lester Family Saga series, published in 1994.
The Dashing Duke . . .
Lenore Lester was perfectly content with her quiet country life, caring for her father, and having no desire for marriage. She took steps to remain inconspicuous and tried her best to show indifference - but no avail! The irresistible Duke of Eversleigh had found her out and was quite persistent in his affections . . .
The Shy Miss!
Notoriously charming Jason, Duke of Eversleigh, could easily see behind Miss Lenore's brilliant disguise. Though the awkward lady hid behind glasses and pulled-back hair, she couldn't cover her beauty. And Jason was ever determined to loosen the hold she had on her heart.
As I have already read all Stephanie Laurens books, this was a re-read for me. Still, as this is one of her older books, I really enjoyed reading it again.
Jason, the Duke of Eversleigh, had planned on never getting married. His younger brother would do that, and secure the title. But he foolishly got himself killed fighting Napoleon, and now Jason has no choice but to get married himself and get some heirs. His current heir is a cousin several times removed, and totally unfit to be the next Duke of Eversleigh. And so, together with his best friends, he makes a list of characteristics his future Duchess needs to have, and try to find a woman that fits his list. He wants to get this done before his aunts start matchmaking him.
The only lady who fits all of his desires, is Lenore Lester, the sister of one of his friends. He can’t remember ever having laid eyes on the lady in question, but she is very capable in handling the family estate as her brothers have no interest in anything but their own pleasures. And as it so happens, he has an invitation for a house party at the Lesters the next week. But first, he will ask his Aunt Agatha about the lady in question. His aunt knows everybody. And the girl does need to possess some good looks as well. And so, with his aunts approval, Jason sets out to procure himself a bride forthwith.
What he does find, is a very capable lady, who disguises her pretty looks with glasses and very frumpy dresses and pinafores. Lenore has no intention to get married and be beholden to a man. She likes her quiet life, and running the household and estate. And seeing her brother’s and their friends act at those notorious house parties have made her even more determined to avoid marriage. But Jason does not take no for an answer, and does his utter best to persuade her to accept his proposal.
So when her father jumps to conclusions, and announces their betrothal, Lenore is furious. She thinks this is Jason’s way of forcing her hand. But it is not, and he does his best to help her with everything that happens next. But when he goes so far as ordering her new clothes for her, she draws the line. She will not be dictated to by her husband for the rest of their lives!
As said, I enjoyed this one. Lenore is a very capable woman, she is in charge of a large household and estate, and she enjoys it. She loves to study strange subjecs, and is a very smart woman. And marriage was really not in her mind. But she also never gave a thought to what would happen to her, when her brothers would get married. And so Jason’s offer of marriage might be what she needs after all. Especially as he promises her a lot of freedom in running his households and estates. And she is not required to live in London if she prefers the country.
Jason sets out coldly to find himself a suitable wife, but he totally does not intend to fall in love. And when Lenore holds herself back, as this is a marriage of convenience of sorts, he doesn’t like it one bit. I really enjoyed his struggle with love.
What I also liked, this time there is no seducing into marriage at all. No attempts to compromise her, to get her to desire him. Sex happens after marriage, and I liked this. Of course this is nothing new, as this is an old book.
Stephanie Laurens has been one of my favourite historical romance authors for over 25 years, and I still enjoy reading her books. I do recommend her work.
Kasey Michaels – The Wedding Party
This is a really short but sweet story. Alana Wallingford is happily in love and engaged to be married to Bailey Armstrong, Viscount Netherfield. Who will one day be the Earl of Whitcomb. They met in a bookstore, and fell instantly in love with each other. Luckily, Alana is a rich heiress, as Bailey needs to marry for money. He was very close to proposing to Miss Wise for just that reason, when he fell in love with Alana.
But now Miss Wise has come to the Redgrave estate, to make trouble. She wants Bailey back, and thinks to get her way by harassing Alana. Who is just a sweet little miss after all …
She does make some trouble, because Alana is doubting Bailey. Would he marry her if she was penniless? But of course, that is not fair to ask. She knows his family depends upon him to make a good marriage to support his 4 sisters, as his father is a complete wastrel. So how is Bailey ever going to convince her of his true love?
As I said, a short and sweet story. But I did like the characters, Alana does have a backbone and Bailey will also do what is necessary to secure his bride.
I do want to read the books about the Redgrave siblings. They sure are unique characters.
Delilah Marvelle – Unlaced
Mark Jacob Danford, the fourth Earl of Thornton and the Dowager Countess of Kent have been the best of friends for years. After all, they have a lot in common. Both are parents, widows, had been miserable in their respective marriages, and neither of them were interested in getting involved with the opposite sex ever again. They even cheekily toast to the anniversary of their spouses' deaths twice a year. Until one afternoon, whilst playing chess, the game changes and they find that their "friendship" will never be same.
Thornton has been in love with Magdalene, Countess of Kent for three years now, and he never thought that possible after his disastrous first marriage. He also knows that after being abused by her first husband, that Magdalene has no interest in marriage at all. But he is tired of just being friends with her, playing chess weekly while he hates the game, and he wants more. He does not want to ruin their friendship, but he does want to marry her, become her lover. He already treats her son Charles as his own son, and Magdalene feels the same about his daughters.
So when Mark finally kisses her over the chess table, he does not foresee Magdalene’s passion. Nor her horror when she realises what is happening, and slaps his face. And so he has no other choice but to put a stop to their relationship completely. Magdalene misses him, but she knows that desire is fleeting. She has no idea he has fallen in love with her, as she has with him … and it takes a major disaster to bring those two lost people back together.
I really liked this short story as well. Two mature characters, with lots of baggage. But they have fallen in love, and now will have to realise that, and take a chance. I think Mark sure gave Magdalene a hard time, he could have just read her letters, and given her another chance instead of the cold shoulder. After all, he does know her history.
Still, it was a fun read, and Magdalene’s son sure is something else than a spoiled aristocrat.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian