Type: Historical Romance
My Copy: Netgalley
One naughty little masquerade can’t hurt… Unladylike Behavior Frances Hadley has managed her family’s estate for years. So why can’t she request her own dowry? She’ll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she’s dealt with lately, though, there’s no way she’s going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she’ll have much less to worry about…
Jack Valentine, third son of the famous Duchess of Love, is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left—Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother’s matchmaking melodrama!
Francis Hadley has had it; she is done living with her Aunt Viola at Landsford, their family home. She recently barely escaped Viola’s attempt to trap her into a marriage she does not want, therefore Francis is traveling to London in order to speak with their man of business and get her dowry so she can move away. Unfortunately her horse comes up lame, she walks to the nearest Inn, Crowing Cock, it happens to be full but the owners feel sorry for the young boy they think she is and suggest she can stay in the Valentine’s room as the Duchess is having her annual party and it will not be in use. However Jack Valentine is tired of running from Miss Wharton (an unmarried woman) and leaves the party early, stopping at the Inn because of weather.
Jack Valentine is the third and youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Greycliffe. The Inn keeper informs Jack that his room is occupied so Jack says he will share. Francis wakes up and is surprised to find Jack in the room, Jack feels bad for the “boy” knowing there are places in London where a young boy can get into trouble if he is unprotected so he offers to travel together to find her brother and conduct her business.
Jack and Francis find the place her brother lives but the landlady says Frederick moved when he recently married, which is a surprised to Francis. As they leave the area they hear a baby crying in the alley with a small dog protecting it. Jack and Francis take the baby (and the dog follows) to one of two homes that Jack supports called Bromley House, one is for women trying to turn around their lives and the other is for orphan children. Francis is confused as to who Jack really is as she always thought of him as a rake with no redeeming qualities.
As they travel toward Jack’s home, Jack realizes who Francis is and also determines that several people know they spent the night together and their reputations may be in trouble. So he sends a note to his parent’s and they make a decision to visit London with Ned and Ellie who now plan to get married while they are here. The Duchess is called the Duchess of Love for her matchmaking skills and also writes a scandal sheet called Venus’ Love Notes that the ton loves to read. Venus is anxious to find out who Francis is; she is worried that Francis may be a gold digger, yet when she meets her, Venus is very happy, even though she is a bit prickly.
Francis’ mother died years ago and her father never returned home after she and her brother were born. She assumes he is studying botany in a foreign land however she finds out that he has been in London on and off for years but never came to see her. He even corresponding with her brother and visited him often as well as their man of business. Francis also finds out that even though her mother pushed her family away after she married, Francis’ family is very anxious to meet her and want her in their lives. She is the Marquis of Rothmarsh’s granddaughter and though at first she is overwhelmed when she meets them she quickly becomes excited to have a large family that wants to include her in their lives.
Frederick comes by when he hears that Jack wants to meet him, and although he does not want to see Francis, she makes sure she talks with him. He really does not want to have anything to do with her or their mother’s family and he always felt that Viola doted on Francis and never him. He plans to take his wife to Landsford and live there without Francis or Viola. She feels hurt, angry and betrayed.
Danger comes close to the family as the authorities search for the Silent Slasher who is praying on the working women of London as well as those from wealthier families who may be less than proper, which now fits Francis as her reputation is in question. Jack and Francis grow closer as they deal with their feelings and family dynamics from both sides as well as the danger closing in.
I enjoyed this second book in the series, a continuation of the matchmaking attempts of the Duchess of Greycliffe to find wives for her three sons and any others she feels need a little help in the love department. The characters a fun and engaging and I enjoyed the three brothers who are close with their mother even though they try to fend off her matchmaking attempts. What I did not care for is that as soon as Jack’s parents get to town and realized that because he is from a Duke’s family and she is from a Marques’s’ family they can cover up the “problem” and Jack does not have to marry her, not that she wants to anyway, however it sounded strange to me, also Francis was more than a little prickly, she definitely had issues and is hard to like at first. Of course they get past this and find love after all and I grow to like her in the end. I like that Jack has a duel personality and he helps those in need that no one knows about and of course I loved Shakespeare the dog. All in all, the story is enjoyable, fast paced and gripping to the end, and I will continue the series as I want to know what happens with Ash and Jess and of course the rest of the family.
I give Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie 4 stars!