Seth, the second Marquis of Wythebury, is on his way to visit Crispin, Duke of Hurst, for the Christmastide Season. After being housebound for the past year to take care of his two young nephews after the untimely death of their parents, Seth is more than willing to spend quality time with a fellow member of The Heirs’ Club. Little does he expect the reception he gets from Lillian Prim, Crispin’s sister-in-law, who has the nerve to abscond with Heron and Fallon for a pre-breakfast snowball war of tag, with himself being her main target. Despite her youthful innocence, Lillian is not afraid to stand up to the Marquis, criticizing him for being too harsh on his wards, hovering over them and not allowing them to participate in the normal boisterous outdoor games common to mischievous boys. To prove her point, she volunteers to oversee their lessons if Seth will allow them some quality open-air activities. Duped into agreeing, Seth can’t help but admire Lillian’s spunk, and the two develop an instant attraction that is difficult to deny. Yet the dilemma remains, can the staid Marquis and the willful Miss Prim find a common ground to develop a relationship beyond their lustful amorous feelings towards one another? In other words, is love enough to sustain a marriage between two such different personalities? Wythebury has only a few days to convince the reticent Lillian that they are indeed the right match.
Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis, a Regency Romance by Amelia Grey is book 3.5 of the Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels series. Crispin and his expectant wife Gwen (from novella 2.5, The Duke and Miss Christmas) are the hosts of this winter house party with hints that there is some matchmaking intent towards the two invited guests. With eldest sister Louise married to Bray, Duke of Drakestone, (Book 1 of the series, The Duke in My Bed), only two of the Prim Sisters remain for future books, fourteen year old Sybil and ten year old Bonnie, both as much of a handful as middle sister Lillian who is actually considered the most serene of the bunch. While the four other siblings only make token appearances in this narrative, their existence is a constant throughout the series.
Luckily this book was a novella, since the theme was very one note. Despite its short length, Grey continually repeats the main characters concerns over their attraction to each other. Since it’s love at first sight, it doesn’t take long for the kissing to commence or for Seth to propose marriage when Crispin finds them in a compromising situation (although Crispin did much worse to his wife Gwen before their betrothal). Everyone respects Lillian’s right to refuse this offer for what she is convinced will be a disastrous marriage. The plot reaches a somewhat quick, although not unexpected resolution, leaving the reader to wonder whether with a little less repetition, a little more plot development involving the secondary characters, plus a lengthier courtship (Lillian gave in way too easily), this would have been a much better book.
Despite these flaws, it is difficult not to be entertained by the antics of both Seth and Lillian, as well as the two lads (one who partakes of too many sweets and pukes into the bushes – ah, the follies of youth). Perfect for an afternoon of vicarious romance. Three and a half stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and Swerve for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.