The invalid first marriage of a marquess is discovered to be legally binding, transforming the adult son of that marriage from a lonely bastard into a bitter lord.
The second book in Marlowe’s (A Rake by Any Other Name, 2014) Somerfield Park series features a love story between two naïve and gullible young people. John Fitzhugh Barrett was raised by decent but unloving minor nobility after his opera-singer mother died, because he was unwanted by his unknown father’s family. When it turns out that his parents' marriage hadn't been annulled, as his grandmother had tried to arrange, he's elevated to the rank of earl and dubbed Lord Hartley, heir to the Marquess of Somerset. John is understandably angry with his biological family, especially his grandmother, who orchestrated the farce to begin with because she thought it was best for the family. Urged to marry no less than an earl’s daughter, John is determined to hitch himself to Miss Rebecca Kearsey, the penniless daughter of a baron. Rebecca’s father is a profligate gambler, and her mother is suffering from the early stages of tuberculosis. Rebecca is sweet-tempered and gets herself into bad scrapes from which John delights in rescuing her. The book’s prose is fluid, but the main characters are so insipidly stupid about human nature that it's frustrating. John is taken in by a slimy, deceitful band of rakes and is given to childish tantrums, misbehaving just to get revenge on his grandmother. Rebecca is too passive. Although she’s theoretically an intelligent bluestocking and an amateur astronomer, she's completely lacking in common sense.
The author’s writing abilities make the book worth reading in spite of the unlikable main characters. Walk, don’t run, to get your hands on it.