passion rating: hot
The truth is, I’ve so loved the last two books in Ms. Long’s Pennyroyal Greenseries, I Kissed an Earl and What I Did for a Duke, that to like this book — just to like it and enjoy it as a good read — was a bummer. How the Marquess Was Won is, as I’d expect from Ms. Long, wildly well-written, peopled with complex characters, and willing to delve deeply into the nature of true love.It isn’t, however, relentlessly compelling or compulsively re-readable. Nor is it — and this is part of my discontent — the tale of an Eversea or a Redmond, the two families whose lives and loves have been chronicled in the series’ first five books.
The heroine of How the Marquess Was Won is Miss Phoebe Vale, a forthright young woman who is a teacher at Miss Marietta Endicott’s Academy for Girls. Phoebe, born in the slums of London, has secured her place in life by dint of will and intelligence. At twenty-two, she’s unmarried and feels rather uncomfortably on the proverbial shelf. Phoebe has a vibrant, enthusiastic imagination — fueled in part by the broadsheets she loves. She knows that while she may be lowly born, her aspirations are as valid as anyone’s. She appreciates the stability Endicott’s Academy has brought her — she arrived there at age ten, swept off the streets of Seven Dials by a mysterious benefactor — but she wants more. As the book begins, Phoebe is contemplating saying yes to two opportunities, one which would take her to Africa to teach, and the other, a short-term affair (just two days), which entails being a chaperone to former student Lisbeth Redmond, the niece of Fanchette and Isaiah Redmond.
Lisbeth, is at twenty, a diamond of the first, albeit shallow, water. She will make the perfect wife for any lord and, the hero, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, is known for his perfection. Dryden, dubbed by the scandal sheets who track his every move as “Lord Ice,” has spent years ruthlessly, carefully, and flawlessly amassing his fame and fortune. His father was a reprobate who gambled away the family’s wealth and property. Julian has gotten it all back, whilst earning the slavish devotion of the ton - all but one last piece of land. That bit of English countryside, currently owned by Isaiah Redmond, will be Julian’s when he marries the lovely Lisbeth.
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