When Lord Fenton is forced to marry or face disinheritance, he follows his mother’s advice and weds Alice Stanbridge, a family friend, but their match is full of conflict.
Charles Theler, Lord Fenton, has developed foppish ways, gambling heavily and acting the flirt, but when he crosses a line and makes a particularly embarrassing spectacle of himself, his father, the Earl of Chariton, takes initial steps to disinherit him. When his mother steps in on his behalf and convinces the earl to give him one more chance to redeem himself, he is given a number of conditions, one of which is that he must marry. Charles is willing to do anything to maintain his title and position, especially since his ridiculous manner has always been a way to goad his father and possibly earn a speck of his attention, even if it is negative. His father is all about appearances, even if his actions are less than honorable. However, now that Charles has come so close to losing everything, he knows he must buckle down and show some respect to his title and responsibilities. He is guided by his mother in choosing a wife, Miss Alice Stanbridge, the daughter of her childhood friend. At first Alice is thrilled by the engagement—she’s held a tendre for Charles since she was a girl—but as she comes to realize he was forced into marriage and did not actually choose her, she is hurt and bewildered, especially since he shows her the same vapid mask he shows the rest of society, and she worries he is as shallow as he appears. When Charles’ mother falls ill, the uncomfortable newlyweds follow her from London to a country estate that shelters many lingering family secrets. Occasionally slow-moving, but an interesting take on respect and respectability and the choices a noble family must make when things go awry. Watching Alice and Charles grow into themselves and love for each other is nuanced and rewarding.
A poignant Regency romance with subtle inspirational messages about the power of forgiveness and authenticity.