Turning to the Victorian Era, Jane Goodger brings a lovely story in the fourth book in her Lords and Ladies series.. Full of the banter, social restrictions and laden with wonderful secondary characters that build the scene and the world beautifully.
The Spinster Bride:
Charles Norris is not a prime candidate for the aspiring Mama’s of the new debutantes. As the second son of a Viscount, he has been out of England pursuing his own path, only to return with a wound and a desire to marry. Capturing the attention of the latest ‘it girl’ debutante of the season, Charles is dismayed and angered when she marries another. He will be married, in spite of his rather ‘unusual’ household, and he wants to marry now.
Lady Marjorie has been out for several seasons, her dragon-like mother has decreed that she will only marry a titled man, befitting her status as the only daughter of an Earl. With no real solid prospects, this is Marjorie’s final season before firmly being put on the shelf. Adhering to the social conventions of her time, Marjorie is aware of her tenuous position, and while not chafing against her mother’s decree or behavior, she is also determined to protect her younger brother, the Earl from the harsh realities of life. For George needs her protection as he is ‘not quite right’, and is truly her only Achilles heel.
When Charles twists Marjorie’s protective nature about her brother to meet his own ends, and enlist her in his plans to find a wife in lieu of demanding repayment of a gambling debt, Marjorie is both intrigued and a willing participant, thinking the journey ‘fun and amusing’. What none but the reader expect is Marjorie and Charles starting to find qualities to admire in one another, to the detriment of Lady Penwhistle (her mother).
Goodger has created a courtship that is fun and intriguing, while slowly peeling back layers that display Marjorie’s curious nature and George’s propensity for kindness and acceptance to all. Both are rare qualities for the era – titled men are secure and cloistered in their beliefs to be as generations before had done, and the women are not encouraged to seek out more. With insets from Marjorie’s mother about her own failed courtship and the angry and judgmental woman that emerged from that pain, Lady Penwhistle’s story becomes a nice counterpoint to the developing relationship between Marjorie and Charles, and allows readers to understand just why she acts as she does.
And Marjorie and Charles are wonderful together: their interactions and her honest approach as a ‘facilitator’ removes Marjorie’s hesitation to address Charles honestly and frankly, unlike a flirtation would. Charles’ ability to encourage and even delight in Marjorie’s company, and his easy acceptance and offer of friendship to George are points in his favor, and ones that have Marjorie learning to look to her own desires and ignore expectations that are foisted upon her.
With a solid connection and several moments to laugh as Marjorie opens up and boldly asks questions and makes demands, her development and their courtship are wonderful to watch, and feel very organic and possible. A wonderful story to spend an afternoon with as you travel into Victorian England with this couple!
Title: The Spinster Bride
Author: Jane Goodger
Series: Lords and Ladies #4
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Lyrical Press
Published on: 3 February 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…
For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season's loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She's sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she's decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…
Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn't want a husband…
At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She'd rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It's not as if she's in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.