Series: Marriage Mart #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 2, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
This adventurous duke...
The Duke of Marchford requires a suitable bride, but catching spies for the Foreign Office takes up most of his time. Not wanting to face another London season as an eligible man, he employs the notorious Madame X to find him a match.
Has met his match
Miss Penelope Rose knows the rules of marriage among members of the ton better than most. Her own unsuccessful attempts at matrimony did not stop her from becoming London's most exclusive matchmaker. Marchford proves to be a difficult client, but as he draws on her social expertise to help him flush out a dangerous traitor, they find that falling in love may be the riskiest adventure of all.
Penelope Rose, companion to the Dowager Duchess of Marchford, enjoys her unobtrusive role – not quite a Lady, not quite a servant, and not quite accepted by either social circle. This nondescript status allows her to run a profitable side-business as Madame X, matchmaker extraordinaire, and gather important intelligence on potential French spies which she then passes on to her employer’s son, the Duke of Marchford, James Lockton. Penelope and James make a good team, but when they are caught in a compromising position by a group of vicious gossips, they suddenly find themselves engaged! Behind closed doors, Penelope vehemently denies the engagement, refusing to settle for anything less that the love she deserves. James, who scoffs at the very notion of such a silly emotion, doesn’t believe in love but does believe in pursuing Penelope and showing her what a great partnership they could make together. Somewhere between adopting Miles the Peruvian house-cat, seven maids a-milking, and an abigail named Abigail, James and Penelope might just find themselves fallen victim to that meddling and sneakiest of emotions – love.
Penelope is a woman who knows her own mind and doesn’t let a person’s rank prevent her from speaking her mind when the situation calls for it. She’s often described as “sensible” and that is quite true – she’s rational and a bit of a realist when it comes to social situations such as her age (certified spinster) or her engagement to James (he’s a Duke, she’s a commoner; it will never work). But Penelope has a softer, more sentimental side too. She holds onto her mother’s gown just because it still faintly smells of her mother’s perfume. She believes in love and refuses to settle for anything less than a husband who loves her, no matter if that means spending her life alone.
James is a little more frustrating. Towards the beginning of the novel, he’s quite arrogant, a tad too possessive, and professes to find love a silly, worthless emotion that does nothing but make a man weak. Thankfully, as he begins to recognize the feelings he has for Penelope, he sees her more as a woman to be wooed than an object to possess. And his “woo-ing” leads to some laugh-out-loud comedic scenes.
The romance in this novel quirky, funny, and sweet. Descriptions of sexual encounters are quite mild, almost non-existent (two in the entire book – blink and you’ll miss them). The real gem in this novel is the comedy that really shines through in the writing. The author has a real knack for comedic timing, unusual characters and situations, and quick, dry humor. The plot and characters were nothing out of the ordinary (actually, I didn’t find them terribly interesting), but there were many scenes that had me laughing in my chair and I think that was what made this novel actually enjoyable.