Lady Isabel Townsend lives out in the country, far from London in a manor house that is more than a bit shabby. Her father, the Earl of Riddich hasn’t been to the house in more than 6 years. He didn’t return when his wife died and didn’t care when the servants left due to non-payment. Instead, Isabel took care of it all including her younger brother, James. Occasionally a man would show up and inform Isabel that her father had arranged her marriage to them. Actually, her father put her up as part of a gambling bet and lost. Isabel chases these men off with the help of her household.
This household wasn’t a typical household. Isabel takes in women that needed a place to go. She takes them in and trains them. Many have left to gainful employment or to marry but a few have stayed and run her house. They are able to grow enough on what little land is left to feed everyone but there is no money left to spare.
When the Duke of Leighton’s sister, Georgiana shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, Isabel agrees to let her stay. There is a good chance that this will ruin her family’s name even more than her father’s gambling. There is even a better chance that someone will be sent to find her. Still, Isabel can’t turn her away, for where would she go?
Lord Nicholas St. John is known for his ability to track people which is why his friend, Gabriel, Duke of Leighton has asked him to find his sister. He wants to keep Georgiana’s disappearance as quiet as possible. Nick has had enough of London and its matchmaking mamas so even though he doesn’t want to track people any longer, he agrees to find Georgiana. He has no problem following her to a rustic village but then looses her trail. While waiting for his horse, he notices a young woman about to be run over by some horses!
Isabel is intent on selling her marbles. She doesn’t want to but they need the money. The roof is almost gone on the house. When she’s knocked down by a strange man, first she’s furious but then when she learns it’s Lord St John a known expert on marbles, she’s thrilled. She won’t even need to mail her letter looking for an expert. And she didn’t see any runaway horses!
St John accepts Isabel’s proposition to examine her marbles. He quickly figures out she’s hiding something or someone. He’s also learning that he’s interested in more than Isabel’s marbles.
This is the second book with some of the same characters in it but I’m not sure if I’d call it a series. This book can easily be read without having read any other book and thoroughly enjoyed.
The humor that is throughout this story is priceless. Isabel’s all female household takes some getting use to, especially when the ladies try to pass for men. But, they have to do the jobs men usually do from being the butler to fixing a roof. Some things they have more skill at than others. Even young James has his moments when he stands up to Lord St John, even though he’s only 10 years old. He also doesn’t understand why he needs to go to school. After all, what is he going to learn there that his governess Georgiana doesn’t know?
To pull off this wonderful story, the characters have to be well rounded. There is nothing flat or ordinary about any of them. Each has a history, a family, and a way of doing things. Some even have secrets which will shock! They quickly pull you into their world and you’re not sure if you want to leave.
I found this story to be fantastic. It’s excellent use of humor makes this more than your typical historical romance. Some how a few social issues make their way into the plot which only makes the story feel more authentic. Ms MacLean has made historical romance her own and her stories can’t help but to delight. I can’t wait for her next book!
Since being named "London's Lord to Land" by a popular ladies' magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlessly pursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presents itself, he eagerly jumps-only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he's ever met!
The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father's recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother's birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks.
But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless and foolish...like falling madly, passionately in love.