When the wealthy middle-class Laurie family purchases a home in exclusive Belgrave Square, London Society is aghast. After all, the consensus is that they’re nothing but lowborn commoners-a family of nouveau riche daring to marry into the aristocracy. Others believe it’s an attempt to prove that their wealth makes them equal to nobility. Only one thing is certain: Belgrave Square will never be the same again.
Upon his father’s death, Alexander Laurie feels the best way to provide his family with the privileges they deserve and secure their business is to establish ties with the London ton. And the best way to do it is by marrying an aristocratic bride. But when his business rival’s beautiful daughter—the one person who can destroy his plans—appears in London, Alex must defeat her attempts at sabotage, even if that means stealing kisses from the enemy.
Alex Laurie is attempting to move his family firmly into the ton. He’s not sure it possible because they were raised in the lower classes and he’s not sure his family is ready for it. Even though the family now has wealth he knows the one thing that will make his dye company the best in the world is the acquisition of the Madonna Dye which is a dye that was created for the Queen. Unfortunately the man who created the dye has disappeared and no knows where.
Alex’s rival is a company from America. The man’s daughter, Willa Stratton, wants the Madonna Dye. Willa wants it for her future because if she gets the dye she believes she won’t have to cave to her father’s wishes and marry a man she doesn’t love. She’ll do almost anything to get the dye recipe and that includes spying on Alex.
Alex and Willa have a history as competitors. Willa has been ruthless in the past getting investors for her fathers company and therefore Alex doesn’t trust Willa. That doesn’t stop him, however, from wanting her desperately. Willa, despite how she lies to herself, wants Alex too. Unfortunately they both realize that they can never be together.
I’ve read novels by March before but this one is definitely my favorite. This a charming novel with some great characters and some very humorous parts. I loved seeing Alex and Willa fight their attraction to each other and make their plays to find the creator of the dye for very different reasons.
I loved the conversations between Willa and Alex. They just weren’t afraid to say anything – well, except for those about their feelings for each other. One great part was when Willa was having a salon with many gentleman callers and Alex decides to invade in order to drive her out of town. He purposely tries to embarrass her by telling everyone she’ll play the pianoforte for them. The problem is that Willa can only play Three Blind Mice and even then, not well, or, in its entirety. lol Willa then tries to embarrass Alex by telling him to play. He proceeds to then beautifully play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Willa was frustrated, to say the least.
“I do not like repeating myself,” she said slowly, “but it seems appropriate to say it again.” She paused, attempting to summon the entirety of her disdain to resonate with each syllable. “I find you—”
“Delightful. Glorious. Amazingly talented.”
“— trying. Extremely trying. God should have sent you to Pharaoh instead of frogs or locusts. It would have been much more effective.”
I did feel that the end was rushed a bit. The timeline didn’t seem correct to me – from the time that Alex talked to Willa about an invention he had developed to Alex supposedly getting letters from investors about said invention. It had only been about 5 days – absolutely no way for Willa to get info to America and get replies. Kind of hard for me to explain it without giving spoilers but it was just off enough for me to question it. Also, though Alex knew he loved Willa the end just appeared too fast for how long things had been drawn out.
Even with those niggles I still very much liked the book. I wish that there would be more stories regarding the Laurie family and friends in the future as I really liked some of the secondary characters: Alex’s friend Mr. Lunsford, Alex’s sister, Jo and a friend of Jo’s named Thea. These were all characters that were intriguing and I just want more! lol. Unfortunately, Ms. March is now self-publishing under a new name and I don’t think we’ll ever get to hear about those characters. Bummer.
Rating: 4 out of 5
You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place.