|Sara Bennett has returned with those husband hunting girls from Lady Debenham’s Finishing School and this one has really put herself in a pickle. Eugenie Belmont, who is a mere baron’s daughter, told the girls that her beau and future husband is none other than the Duke of Somerton. It doesn’t matter than she has only briefly met him and that word “met” is generous. It doesn’t matter that he has a reputation as a haughty duke with little interest in the debutantes. What matters is that Eugenie now has to save face.
Luckily for her, the fates are in her favor. Sinclair St. John is all those things people say about him. It is how he was raised. Yet he is also more. He has a love of painting that was squelched when he was a teenager. He used to like adventure, until his mother drove it out of him with her constant reminders about his class and how he must act as the duke. But he is enthralled with the freshness of Eugenie’s attitude and her apparent love of life. When circumstances dictate that they spend some time together, he is intrigued. Then when they are forced on a long journey, their hearts become engaged. However, Eugenie hopes for marriage while Sinclair is thinking mistress.
The circumstances that throw them together comes in the form of Sinclair’s spoiled sister and Eugenie’s brother. Annabelle is soon to be married and is rebelling against it. She has “dreams” of just being a common person who doesn’t have to marry someone she doesn’t love. Terry, while old enough to know better, acts immaturely and besides, he is besotted with Annabelle. The two forge a scheme to take off and get Annabelle to a friend’s home in Scotland, where she can escape the expected matrimony. Terry realizes that he can be her hero. But their lives are very different and Annabelle quickly realizes the luxury she is used to is not something everyone has. Terry actually starts falling for the companion, who is a mere vicar’s daughter.
I enjoyed this story to a point. The journey went on a bit too long. It was clear from the beginning that the scheme wasn’t going to pan out, yet they kept going. Of course, Sinclair and Eugenie thought they were headed to Scotland to marry, so there was a sense of urgency in their travels. Once they realized they had feelings for each other, the two sparred about the result of their encounter…marriage or nothing for Eugenie and mistress for Sinclair. The reader could clearly see that Eugenie was going to win, and the battle dragged on a bit too long for full enjoyment.
Overall, this was a fun book, with Sinclair slowly discovering he could be a duke and a man with interests. Eugenie is generally a sensible heroine, but she also suffers from a lack of self-assurance that reared its head at odd times. Luckily their good characteristics won out and, of course, helped lead them to their Happily Ever After.