Review of WHAT A GENTLEMAN WANTS by Caroline Linden (see her website)
Zebra Historical Romance, September 2006
Hannah Preston has a problem. The new vicar is moving into town and that means that Hannah has to move. Moving back with her father is a horrible option, but a widow without property doesn't have a lot of options. Until, that is, handsome rake, Lord David Reece is injured near her home and decides to save her. David is a bit too set on staying wild to marry her himself, so he does the next best thing: he forges his brother's signature on the marriage license and notifies the Times of London that Marcus Reece, Duke of Exter, has taken a bride.
Marcus has baled his brother out of a lot of problems and is used to David's resentment, but David has never done anything quite so horrible. Still, when Marcus's stepmother and young sister arrive just as Marcus is trying to pay Hannah off and send her back somewhere far away, he doesn't have the heart to tell them that their much-loved David pulled such a nasty trick. Instead, he decides to pretend that the marriage is real--and bribes Hannah to play along. As he watches Hannah be transformed from the country widow to a beautiful duchess, Marcus starts to worry that he's created something he doesn't know how to stop.
Unfortunately for poor Marcus, there's more going on in his life than his step-mother knows. There is a counterfeiting operation going on in London and it looks as if David is involved. If so, David is subject to transportation to one of the prison colonies. Marcus may be angry with David for misleading poor Hannah, but he'll do whatever he can to save his brother from that fate.
Author Caroline Linden (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Linden) gives the Cinderella story a cute twist by having a troublesome rake play the fairy godmother (at least until the stepmother and sister come onto the scene to complete Hannah's transformation). Poor Marcus may struggle, but he doesn't really have a chance once his step-mother decides she is going to make this marriage work, no matter how it started. Linden writes a nice intrigue element--although the resolution of this element might have been a little more tightly integrated into the romance plot.
Linden continues the strong writing she introduced in her debut novel, WHAT A WOMAN NEEDS (see our review). She does a fine job revealing Marcus in layers, gradually showing us the real man so long hidden under his duty-bound exterior.
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