What I like best about the Marriage Game series is that by Book #7 the reader knows the players. Ella Quinn has cultivated our acquaintance with a myriad of characters by layering one story atop another. Over the three plus years which these books span we have developed friendships, even with those who play a minor part in the various plotlines, such as Lady Bellamny, a leading patroness of society (also referred to as the dragon lady), who always seems to make an appearance somewhere in the story. Then there is grandmotherly Lady Beaumont who enjoys subtle matchmaking, and we can’t forget poor widower Lord Blumly, fat and farty with a passel of kids back home, who is persistently searching for a potential wife but quickly dismissed as a prospect by our protagonists. Since so many of the characters are related, either cousins or aunts or inlaws, one must make an effort to keep them all straight. Of course, with each additional novel comes a whole host of new cast members, some who complement the crowd while others play the villain.
Lady Beresford Lover occurs during London’s Little Season in 1817. The recently widowed Vivian, Countess of Beresford, is ready to move on with her life after her disastrous marriage to Edgar, a man who flaunted his long standing mistress throughout the township. Edgar was turned off by Vivian’s hidden imperfections, so now she wants to swear off men and settle down in her own household. Yet, she feels an attraction, a mutual chemistry, with young Lord Rupert, Earl of Stanstead. Rupert is actively looking for a wife, not just any woman, but one who can support his career in Parlement as well as enjoy life at his country estate. However, of utmost importance is to discover a soulmate to love and cherish. Burnt once in a previous relationship, Rupert is proceeding cautiously, but his heart keeps leading him back to Vivian.
Vivian and companion Silvia are all set to enjoy the whirlwind of entertainments which London has to offer sponsored by understanding Cousin Clara, the Dowager Marchioness of Telford. With her new friends Phoebe and Serena looking on, Vivian is courted by the handsome Rupert. There is also a subplot where Nicholas, the new Earl of Beresford, attempts to make amends for his cousin’s behaviors by proposing to Vivian even though he is in love with Silvia. Somehow, he becomes close friends with Rupert and together they provide the necessary support for each other’s endeavors to convince the reluctant damsels they are serious suitors. Since this is a Regency Romance written by Ella Quinn, the reader should expect some trauma (and risqué behaviors) before a happy ending is reached with some assistance from the various protagonists found in the earlier books of the Marriage Game series.
This ones a keeper. The wager made at Anna’s wedding is complete, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t future romances on the horizon. Kit’s little sister is still without a betrothal and Nicholas’ best friend, Damon, the Marquis of Hawksworth (godson to Lady Belamny) seems to have an interesting backstory to be explored. (And yes, I do keep notes to avoid confusion). Suggestion to Ella Quinn – we need a family tree along with a Who’s Who for this series. It’s just getting too complicated to easily keep everybody straight, but we definitely want more. After all, it’s only 1817 and there’s some twenty more years of the Regency Era to explore. Four stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and Lyrical Press Books for letting me download this ARC in exchange for an honest review.