Publication date: September 19, 2013
Publisher: Kensington Books
Series: The Marriage Game #1
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This is a delightful debut by Ella Quinn!
Lord Marcus Finley fell in love with Lady Phoebe Stanhope mere days before he would be sent to the West Indies. He was still a minor and Phoebe not yet “out,” so he despaired of ever winning her hand. That night, out of sheer desperation, Marcus thought to secure Phoebe’s hand in marriage…except in drunken stupor he forcefully kissed her for which he received a facer and Phoebe’s hatred.
Young Phoebe had admired Marcus from afar, and thought he might be just the kind of gentleman she’d like to marry. But that was before he assaulted her – while drunk at that – and she absolutely refused to think well of him ever again. 8 years later, Phoebe’s brother is married to Marcus’s sister, and Phoebe could not avoid a meeting with Marcus, for her sister-in-law thought he might be a good match – except she did not know what happened that night.
The story’s setup is simple; the hero trying to redeem himself for the mistake he made as a youth and win back the heroine’s affections, but this is a rather difficult plot to maneuver, for there is a dastard villain in the hero’s way. Characterization-wise, Marcus’s ploys to seduce Phoebe were not only genuine and heartfelt, but amusing as well. While his character growth was done outside of the reader’s knowledge, he embodiment every heroic quality upon his return and still managed to have a humanly side that is purely him – this I applaud the author for her excellent crafting. However, as for Phoebe, I found her acquiesce to have taken more time than necessary, though she was certainly enticed by Marcus often enough.
Overall, this story was very well done in utilizing not only a suspenseful conflict for the distasteful villain, but also in pacing a central conflict that could have both been easily resolved, or have taken many pages to do so, in which case it might have the effect of annoying the readers. And while characterization and plot is great, even greater is the attention this author paid to historical detail, especially in the characters’ speech and the diction used in Regency England. It is evident the author has done her research well, and it shows through this story’s dialogue, setting, and tone. Brava, Mrs. Quinn!
Rating: 4 tulips
*I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review