Guest review by Amber
The infamous rake, Lord Richard Hamilton, has finally chosen his bride—the very appropriate Miss Emma Grey.
The ton approves, Lord Grey is pleased, Lady Grey delighted, and Emma is over the moon, but her uncle, (the blasted) Duke of Arden opposes the match, and Emma is ordered to move to the duke’s estate to think things over.
Richard Hamilton refuses to take things lying down and concocts a plan. A plan that should have brought the lovers together and had them married within a month. It was a simple matter of masquerading as the duke’s gardener, compromising the lady, and then having the duke rush them off to Gretna Green.
Alas, he underestimates the duke’s intelligence and the tangled situation on the estate—never had he imagined that compromising a lady could be so difficult.
His endeavours lead to a comedy of errors, charades, and knotty love affairs. Yet he forges ahead in spite of pesky house guests, a flea bitten mattress, his lovesick best friend, and a blackmailer.
Just when things seem to be going well, someone is murdered (very inconvenient), and he happens to be one of the suspects (extremely inconvenient).
His simple plan for winning the wager suddenly becomes … a tad complicated.
The first thing I should note is that I’m not much of a historical romance reader. But I am a big mystery reader and I do have a fondness for the Regency time period. Or maybe that’s a weakness for Colin Firth. Might be one or the other.
This is a pretty cute book with a few issues. Miss Emma Grey is going to marry Lord Hamilton, but her uncle, a duke, wants her to wait. Richard Hamilton isn’t into the idea of waiting. So he hatches this utterly ridiculous plan to follow her to her uncle’s estate and pretend to be a gardener for a reason that really makes no sense so I will leave it to there reader to unravel the mess that is their wager.
I enjoy the madcap romp element of this story, like The Importance of Being Ernest, or the like. However, the murder mystery is kind of lacking in that it doesn’t even pick up until the very end of the book. It’s not really so much of a mystery as it is a comedy of errors with a random murder thrown in at the end. So in that way, I felt a little misled.
Also, I was kind of bored until the heroine’s fake ‘fiancé’ shows up in the form of Richard Hamilton’s friend, William Raikes. I really enjoyed William and his romance with Emma’s cousin much more than the relationship between Emma and Richard. That part of the story was definitely funny.So, in summary, for an absurd but rompy good time, this book rates high. For a murder mystery, I have to admit I found it rather lacking. I’d give it a 3.5 out five stars.
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