I recommend this book to all my fellow historical romance fans.
Frances Hadley doesn't think very highly of men. And why should she? She's been abandoned by both her scoundrel of a father and her brother to. But the last straw came with Frances’ discovery that her own aunt planned to help a rogue to compromise her virtue. So the independent young miss concocts a scheme to take back control of her own life. In a rage, she disguises herself as a boy and sets off for London with dreams of claiming her dowry and living her life alone. She runs into some bad luck, or good luck as it would happen, along the way. When a bad ice storm and a lame horse place her in the company and the same bed with a notorious rake, her reputation is in ruins. The last thing Frances wants is to be tied to the same kind of man her scoundrel father was. So she refuses the marriage proposal.
Fed up with overly aggressive young ladies hoping to trap him into marriage, Jack Valentine skips out on his matchmaking mother’s house party and flees for London. But a vicious storm strands Jack at a country inn where he has to share a room with a young ginger haired lad. He takes pity on the rather forlorn looking fellow and offers to escort him to his brother in London. Unfortunately for Jack the lad is recognized by someone as a missing young lady. By then the damage is done for Jack has a bit of a reputation as a known rake. Ever the honorable gentleman, Jack offers marriage while secretly hoping for a way out. But when the lady in question refuses his proposal Jack calls in the expert in these matters, his mother, the Duchess of Love.
I enjoyed this story. The part I liked best was the interesting characters. Neither one of the leads were quite the same as their reputations painted them. Jack wasn't the irresponsible rake that society thought him to be. He was actually a compassionate man who championed the ones that society discarded. Neither was Frances the virago that she seemed at times. Underneath all her audaciousness was a vulnerable heart that wanted to be loved. The mystery aspect of the story only added to its appeal. I had my suspicions about the murderer but the author kept me guessing right up until the end.
Dowry? She'll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she's dealt with lately, though, there's no way she's going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she'll have much less to worry about. Jack Valentine, third son of the famous "Duchess of Love", is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined Miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left - Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother's matchmaking melodrama!