This is the sequel to Lord Perfect (and every other Carsington boy book- I need to get around to reading the first one sometime), and features youngest son Darius, who everyone keeps hinting about "getting to" sometime.
Darius is...a Regency Vulcan. Seriously. Total science type, loves analyzing everything and writing papers and being all intellectual. He's OF COURSE a rake, because all the Regency guys (other than Sir Phillip, come to think of it, who you really can't call one at all) have to be, but he doesn't sound like much of one. He's not one for spreading the charm on thick, and while he apparently works his dick through as many non-virgins as he can, he can't seem to remember one of them from the next. I find it hard to believe that looks and good family would make up for a fellow that uninterested in anything other than a woman's twat, but whatever. So, not my favorite bloke right off the bat. Luckily, he improves from there.
Anyhoo, daddy-o Lord Hargate is well known for telling his slacker single sons that they'd better marry for money around age 29 or so. Darius is a year under the wire, so for the moment he's being let off with a warning...and a proposal: fix up a country property and make it profitable in a year, and I'll back off on nagging you to get married. Darius isn't necessarily against marriage, but he does like a challenge, so he takes it on. So he moves to the country, where his nearest neighbors at Lithby Hall take an interest in him and his property, and helping him fix it up.
Lady Charlotte Hayward is 27 years old, smart, gorgeous, rich...and an expert at Not Getting Married. She's superbly good at putting off, annoying, distracting, or fading away from various suitors over the years. (Girl needs to give me lessons.) She's got a good reason for doing so, as she lost her virginity ten years ago to the local rake. Her dad and the other locals have no idea, as her new stepmother covered the whole thing up and sent the baby that resulted from the affair away.
However, Charlotte's singledom is likely to end for many reasons:
- Her dad's finally clued in enough to think, "Huh, she's 27 and single...something needs to be done about that," and he's insisting on having a house party for Charlotte to pick a man out at.
- Another neighbor, Colonel Morrell, has picked out Charlotte to be his wife. Unlike all the other people who tried to woo her, he's a smart one and has figured out (a) how she rebuffs suitors, (b) that he needs to take a subtle, underhanded, slowly-get-in-under-the-wire approach to wooing, and (c) WHY she's still single. Too bad he's the sort who thinks "mastering a lady" would be fun times.
- Oh, and Darius has moved in next door, and her stepmama's volunteered the family to help him fix up the house.
I'm happy to say that Darius mellows out, gets a soul, and acts like a good fellow under Charlotte's influence. As for Charlotte, she's been acting in a proper manner for ten years and is getting damn tired of it. And then there's her kid, who shows up as an indentured servant to one of the guys working on the house....
Now, for the most part I liked this, and I'm not terribly into Vulcan types, or secret baby plots. Those two mellow each other out nicely. And the "villain" character isn't all bad. I actually really enjoyed the scene where he proposed, Charlotte politely declined, and then he proceeded to say that he knew about her Situation and uh, sure makes it sound like he's blackmailing her into marriage. (Whether or not he intended it to come off that way, which I guess he did not, it sure sounds that way to the ladies.) I did love how when he asked if she'd reconsider the proposal, she was all, "Um, NO, that's sleazy tactics. Still not marrying you for that."
I do have to point out though that uh...yeah, people would not NEARLY be so mellow and accepting of Charlotte's past indiscretion in the real life period of time as they are in this one. I can see Darius being all "Well, hey, people do it all the time, whatever," sure, but his entire family down to his grandmother, and her entire family, all being okay? Grandma gets in one crack, Darius smacks her down, and everything's fine? Snobby Lord Hargate being proud of him for marrying a "soiled dove?" Nothing much about the entire country being scandalized? Um...not likely. Not that I don't enjoy the happy ending and all, but there is no way. Hell, I haven't gotten around to reading the Bridgerton book that features an illegitimate heroine yet, but I do remember the later books at least pointing out that the happy couple have to live out in the country and avoid society because of it. (Not an issue for Darius and Charlotte, one presumes.)
I'll give it three and a half stars.