The choice between adhering to a long-held pact and finally accepting love could prove Lady Tabitha Shelton’s unhinging. She is plump, plain, pleasant…and thoroughly unappealing to any of the men of the ton—apart from fortune hunters. A self-appointed wallflower, she has every intention of remaining one. Tabitha made a vow of spinsterhood with her cousins when they were girls, and she refuses to go back on her word. So far, she’s proven herself quite adept at warding off the blasted fortune hunters’ pursuits.
Noah deLancie, Marquess of Devonport, would prefer to marry for love and companionship—he’s a gentleman through and through—but circumstances have forced his hand: he needs money as badly as he needs a bride. When Noah’s brother-in-law suggests pursuit of his sister, Tabitha, a woman with a dowry large enough to cause even Croesus to blush and who is tantalizingly good company to boot, Noah stumbles into the future he hopes to secure. He’ll stop at nothing to convince Tabitha to marry him.
First in a new series from this author called “The Old Maid’s Club,” this delightful, humorous, fun-to-read novel was a freebie and a surprising find. I rarely expect to get much from a free read–mostly short stories or novellas calculated by publishers or book sites to “hook” readers into buying other works. But this historical romance introduces readers to an ensemble of women, all cousins, who have come to be disillusioned by the men of the ton who appear to hold women in very low esteem and they want nothing to do with any of them. They all have means and will be able to live quite comfortably on their own with their own money. Yet there is still that sense in all of these women that they would not be adverse to being the object of someone’s genuine affection were it not for this silly pact they made when very young.
The characters in this book are all a hoot–their comings and goings are a part of the silliness of the aristocracy–silliness that grows out of not really having much to do of any substance. Nevertheless, all their antics make for fun reading. Noah is just a great guy–a man who knows what his responsibilities demand and will do what is needed, but he would really like to love the woman he marries, at least that has always been his dream. His financial situation, however, demands that he marry money and now his hope is to find someone with whom he can at least get along. Convincing Lady Tabitha to even give his suit consideration gets a little squirrly as she, in her misplaced sense of loyalty and a hold-over from her naive youth, insists that the pact she made with her cousins binds her for the rest of her life. While I was happy to see her sense of honor and loyalty, her determination to make her promise mean something, I also knew that all of us do foolish things in our adolescent years that often go by the by in later times. Lady Tabitha doesn’t seem to “get” that and she can be irritating at times. Having said that, she was still a young woman it was hard to dislike and it was evident that she was loved by her cousins and important to her family.
I think this was such a fun read and one I was delighted to find. The price was certainly right! I have determined that Ms Gayle is one of the authors I want to get to know better and hope to do so in the near future. It’s a book that historical romance lovers will most assuredly enjoy.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.