An aristocrat departing for a diplomatic mission amid the Peninsular War seeks a capable wife, but the gentlewoman he pursues is hoping for love.
An extension of the Worthington series, the novel stars Miss Elizabeth Turley, a friend of that family. Having witnessed many love matches, Elizabeth aspires for a passionate connection with her future husband. But Geoffrey, Lord Harrington, just wants a speedy wedding with a suitable woman so he can take up his first posting in Europe, where the allies wait for Napoleon’s final move. Aware of his practical reasons, Elizabeth is still crushed when she overhears him discussing her after their wedding without mentioning love; cue a wholly predictable conflict. While Elizabeth’s desire for love is standard in a romance, her insistence on it from a man she barely knows becomes tiresome. Other than this driving motivation, moreover, she is an undistinguished character, lacking individuality except for some glimmers in the last quarter of the novel. Perhaps Quinn (The Marquis and I, 2018, etc.) is relying on readers’ already knowing both protagonists from the previous novels, but as a stand-alone story, this one fails to develop them. The slow buildup to the couple’s wedding and estrangement and the journey to Brussels are also colored by scenes in which their family and friends teach them tactics that echo Cosmo articles on finding a man or podcasts about intimate relationships and behavior modification. The scheming would be comedic if the novel had a sense of playfulness; instead it aims for a dramatic tone that the characters don’t have the depth to pull off.
Recommended for readers of the series as a coda for the characters introduced earlier. Otherwise, the only appeal might be the brief climax that resembles Georgette Heyer’s Spanish Bride romance-during-war narrative.