A Regency-era marquess has allowed his life to be controlled by a family curse, but a blonde spinster promises to give him something else to live for.
The second full-length installment of MacKenzie’s Spinster House series (What to Do with a Duke, 2015) stars 30-year-old Nathaniel, the Marquess of Haywood, who made a deathbed promise to his mother to protect his cousin Marcus, the Duke of Hart, from a 200-year-old curse. The curse says that unless the duke marries for love, he’ll die before his wife gives birth to an heir. But Marcus is sick of Nate following him around, trying to prevent him from compromising gently born ladies and being forced into marriage and ultimately his own death. Nate himself is somewhat distracted from playing nursemaid to his cousin by the lovely Miss Anne Davenport, a childish blonde in her 20s who is anxious to leave her girlhood home before her father’s impending marriage to a woman younger than Anne herself. She’s vying with other village spinsters for a chance to move into a cottage called the Spinster House, with the Duke of Hart as landlord. Because both Nate and Anne lack any self-control whatsoever, they find themselves canoodling in public repeatedly, until finally Nate realizes he is trying to get himself into a position where he’ll be forced to marry Anne. MacKenzie’s prose is lively and readable, but her characters are a bit insipid and don’t grow much during the course of the story. Worse, Nate talks to his penis throughout the novel, frequently telling it, “Shut up, Cock!” in response to his own lascivious thoughts.
Tiresome lead characters and a rather inane plot make this novel eminently skippable.