A heroine faces her unlucky future when she must either become a courtesan or rely on the favor of the aristocratic family she believes abandoned her to save herself from financial ruin.
From the very start, it’s impossible not to root for Lia Kincaid—a force so powerful the novel opens with her name. In a precarious position, at once an illegitimate child and of aristocratic heritage (the daughter of an actress and the Duke of York), Lia is taken care of by her maternal grandmother’s lover, the Marquess of Lendale, and yet is still considered an outsider. Although in love with her childhood friend Jack Easton, the new Marquess of Lendale, her scandalous position prevents them from ever making a match. Her luck turns even worse when Jack, having taken his late uncle’s position, must break the news that the Lendale fortune is in bad standing and that the estate will no longer be able to take care of them. The solution? Lia must take a lover at her grandmother’s insistence and follow the path of the Kincaid women before her. Determined to be different, Lia discovers a generous and well-to-do family member eager to put her on the marriage market and salvage her reputation. While the will-she, won’t-she plot can sometimes be a cheap narrative device, and the naïve romance heroine can be yawn-inspiring, Kelly (My Fair Princess, 2016, etc.) uses both tropes to challenge and often enchant the reader; there are moments, however, where the narrative pace could be picked up a little and when the love interest, Jack, could be more present. Generally, the novel is carried by the genuine natures of characters like Lia and her kind, long-lost relative Aunt Chloe.
An enjoyable, thoughtful romance.