Lady Mary Tolliver has a problem. She has been forced into isolation by her pesky cousin Gawain Tolliver who keeps trying to kidnap her into a compromising situation requiring marriage so he can get his hands on her $60,000 portion. Gawain is sick of being broke and, egged on by his mother, wants the money and a ticket into high society. Between the death of both parents and perpetually hiding at various relatives homes, Mary has only participated in one full season. With two years left before her twenty fifth birthday (when the funds become hers), she reluctantly agrees to spend a year at Rose Hill pretending to be Mrs Featherton. Her Grandmama Constance, the Dowager Duchess of Bridgewater assures Mary that this location is too remote and the owner of the property is no one of importance. Wrong!
When Viscount Christopher Featherton, known as Kit, hears there is an imposter posing as his wife at one of his lesser properties, he hightails it out of London in the middle of the season to evict the lying scamp, only to discover it is Mary – an attractive women who has been MIA for the past few years. A woman he wants to get to know better! Mary is horrified to discover the identity of the true owner, a man she silently refers to as Mr Perfect. Kit immediately realizes that, as a lady of quality, they have no choice but to marry to avoid a scandal effecting both their families. Mary wants to marry for love and rues her chance to be properly courted. She is not ready to accept the fate both her grandmama and Lucinda, the Dowager Countess Featherton have cooked up between them. Kit is more than happy to woo the lady, but their signals keep getting crossed. Mary wants to be kissed while Kit insists on being a respectful gentleman with the mantra “marriage before lust”. In spite of their mutual attraction, they seem to be growing farther apart. Maybe Mr Perfect is a tad too perfect and not passionate enough for marriage.
A Kiss For Lady Mary is Book 6 of the Marriage Game series. To resolve the muddle between the two potential lovebirds, a posse of married couples from former books arrive on the scene. Readers of the series will delight in discovering the comings and goings of their favorite characters. Both Phoebe and Marcus and Anna and Sebastian have toddler sons, while Sabrina and Robert are the proud parents of a recently born baby girl. Gervais and Caro didn’t waste much time after their wedding because she, too, is expecting. Then there is Wivenly who just married Eugenia. Kit feels lonely with all his happily married buddies home in the evening instead of joining him for drinks at the club. He wants what they’ve got and he wants it with Mary. His friends simply have to help him find a way to reconnect with the woman who is rapidly becoming the love of his life. Somehow the whole crew winds up in Edinburgh, Scotland to visit family and allow Mary her chance to participate in a Season.
This Regency Romance is a comedy of errors with repeated misconceptions, not only between Mary and Kit, but other characters as well. Even foolish cousin Gawain has been kept in the dark on the details of his inheritance by his parents. With misunderstandings and lies flying around, there’s some explaining to be done. It’s a lot of plot with several romances occurring before Kit and Mary are able to resolve their issues. And that’s the problem, it takes three quarters of the book for the couple to even kiss, and consummation is left for the wedding night. Inbetween there is just too much push-pull-yes-no. Despite the action, the entire premise slows down the development. Three stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and Kensington books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.