Vivienne Lorret comes to the blog with the third book in her series, The Mating Habits of Scoundrels with
The Wrong Marquess
Having read the first two in this series, I simply adore Lorret’s ‘scoundrels’ and find that the women they ultimately choose to marry (and have fallen in love with) are equal in intelligence, bravado and boldness to the men. Now, in this book we have Elodie’s story: the last unmarried girl on English soil, her friends Winnie and Jane are married, and Pru is still “on the continent” after a scandal sent her offshore. It’s now up to Ellie to publish the tracts on ‘what to look out for’ for the debutantes, so they don’t fall afoul of the various rules and reputation killers in society. We do see Ellie, Winnie and Jane in snippets, as the women are fast friends, but we are able to delve deeper into Ellie’s issues. Orphaned young, she’s been raised by her two recipe-hoarding and ever-sweet aunts yet has never really gotten over her phobias or fears about death, losing those she is close to, or unintentionally falling afoul of the ton – and ending up like Pru. It’s unlikely to happen though, as she’s got an ‘agreement’ with George, the Marquess of Nethersole, and all she is waiting for is to make things formal. But, at twenty-five, she’s fearing a life of spinsterhood as George sows his oats and finds repeated reasons to clash with the Marquess of Hullworth. Having known George since childhood, Ellie is rather blind to his faults: he takes her for granted, he makes jokes about her and at her expense, and is generally unaware of (or cares little for) her needs.
Brandon, Marquess of Hullworth is a taciturn, handsome, sharp tongued and ill-tempered young man who uses his reputation as ‘unsavory and churlish company’ to keep people at arms’ length. He’s been hurt before, has little use for letting anyone else in to do it again, and he won’t stand for it. He’s also, however, kind and observant – and has seen how George ill-treats Ellie, and while he won’t admit to being interested in her as a woman, he isn’t comfortable with her being abused (if only dismissively) at anyone’s hands. There’s a ton of concrete wall surrounding Brandon, and it will take time and plenty of patience to unearth the real man beneath the walls. And, while Ellie is quite sweet and has befriended his sister Meg, he’s unwilling to allow the chance that Meg will be hurt by someone he doesn’t know and trusts even less.
We do get to see how Ellie’s innate sweetness and goodness, if often wrongly applied does bring Brandon around and softens him to her charms. And she’s truly too afraid to take a chance on loving another person lest she lose them (again), and here is where her aunts could have helped a bit more and helped her to determine what choices she is making that may not be the best. It took a bit to find the footing between these two and see Ellie and Brandon as a viable couple –both had to open, grow and share – and they do. Fortunately, after Pru’s antics and Ellie’s easy willingness to forgive her quickly may come into play in the next book – as Brandon is protective of those he trusts – and he doesn’t trust many people. If you like (or appreciate) the earlier books in the series, this one brings us closer to a conclusion and to meet the up until now displaced and disgraced Pru. I like the series and Lorret is one of the finest creators of snappy dialogue and conversations that move the story forward while dealing with the present moment and finding a way to heal the past.