When Elliot Wallace, Viscount Lyngate, arrives in Throckbridge, the small village is buzzing with excitement over the upcoming Valentine's Day dance. The ladies of the town are busy gussying up for the ball and gossiping about the viscount's mysterious arrival, but Elliot has more urgent matters to attend to. His arrival marks a mission to retrieve the rightful Earl of Merton, while his promise he has made to find a wife by Christmas weighs heavily on his mind.
When Elliot meets the new young earl, Stephen Huxtable, and his three sisters, the disagreeable Margaret, the cheery Katherine, and the plain, widowed Vanessa, he becomes absorbed in the family's life. Could it be possible that with the Huxtables he's found both an Earl and wife? If Elliot thinks he's hit two birds with one stone, to which sister will he cast his throw...and will she catch the bait before she discovers his ulterior motives?
This is book nº 1 in Balogh's new series about the Huxtable family. The Huxtables are 3 sisters and 1 brother. When this book opens they are about to receive the visit of Edgar Wallace, Viscount Lyngate, who comes to tell them that Stephen Huxtable has just inherited an earldom and so they lives are about to change.
They all travel to the new Earl of Merton’s estate where they meet Con, the illegitimate son of the former earl and where Elliot starts to realize that it’s time to get married and set up his own nursery. He is about to ask for Meg’s, the oldest Huxtable sister, hand in marriage when Vanessa, the middle sister, decides to meddle and ask him to marry her instead. And so does start the marriage of convenience of two people who have to learn to trust and love each other.
My main problem with the book was Vanessa, she was always too cheerful, too convinced that she could set everything to rights with a word and a smile, that she could please man and keep them happy just by making her laugh. She sounded too young and silly for a 24 year old heroine who has been married and is a widow.
So I liked Elliott a lot more, he was interesting, correct and honest without being a bore, demanding and determined without being abusive. I do feel he may be wrong in what concerns Con but on the whole I think he made good hero material.
Once they are married things do get better. They start to know each other and Vanessa doesn’t sound as silly as before. Even a scene where a possible big misunderstanding could exist is brilliantly done by Balogh who actually makes the characters talk to one another and move forward. That and Vanessa’s little speech to Con afterwards were some of the best parts of this book.
There is a lot of background setting as this is clearly the beginning of a series and I can’t tell you how eager I am for Meg and Con’s stories. They sounded like my kind of favorite characters for different reasons.
There has been much comparison to Pride and Prejudice but besides the initial meeting at a country dance and the initial dislike Elliot has for Vanessa (common to many other romances) the only similarity I saw was to Heyer’s The Convenient Marriage in the proposal scene.
I was really not convinced by this heroine and that’s why I’m giving this one 3.5/5.