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When the Marquess Met His Match
by Laura Lee Guhrke
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-211817-2
Iíve enjoyed many of Laura Lee Guhrkeís books in the past, and while itís been a few years since Iíve read one, Iím happy to say she hasnít lost her touch. When the Marquess Met His Match is a lot of fun and a delightful romance.

Lady Belinda Featherstone survived an unhappy marriage, only to find her late husband left her virtually penniless. Since Belinda was originally from America, and since there are always American heiresses looking to marry a title, she set herself up as a marriage broker of sorts. For a fee, usually ten percent of the wedding settlement, Belinda will arrange introductions among American ladies and titled British gentlemen. So far, itís been a great success, and Belinda prides herself on making sure these are love matches.

Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge, is in the market for a wife. Heís the son of a duke, and his father has just cut off his funds until he finds a wife. Nicholas and the duke are completely estranged and have a dark and unhappy past. Rather than give his father any satisfaction, Nicholas determines to marry an heiress and restore his own fortunes. And who better to help than the famous Lady Featherstone?

Nicholas was a rakehell alongside Belindaís late husband back in the day, and when he shows up at her home, outlining his plan to marry some young, wealthy miss who isnít too objectionable, she refuses to help him. No way will she put an innocent girl through the kind of misery she endured after finding Featherstone only married her for money. But Nicholas is persistent, and Belinda formulates a plan to introduce him to any number of heiresses - all completely unsuitable.

As Nicholas and Belinda wade through the marriage market in search of the perfect heiress, they are reluctantly drawn to one another. Belinda finds that Nicholas isnít quite the dissolute wastrel she assumed, and Nicholas has to change his ideas about what he wants in a wife. But heís truly penniless and has no idea how to support himself, and he needs to marry money or end up under his fatherís thumb forever. The author does a great job of detailing why this is abhorrent, and also makes Nicholas a sympathetic character - no mean feat seeing as heís basically done nothing with his life other than live off his fatherís allowances.

There is a wonderful twist near the end, as Nicholas discovers a way out of his predicament, and it wasnít anything I saw coming. But it was a perfect fit. The chemistry between Nicholas and Belinda is electric from the start, as neither is easily intimidated. Their journey to romance is steamy and a lot of fun, and struck me as entirely believable since they become friends first.

When the Marquess Met His Match is a captivating romance with two wonderful characters and an inventive plot. Iíll be on the lookout for the next installment in this new series, which will feature one of Belindaís successful matches thatís about to take an unexpected turn.

--Cathy Sova

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