Widower James Ludlow, Earl of Rotherham, attends a house party in search of a mother for his two daughters, and his primary requirement is that he doesn’t fall in love. Having already given that emotion to his former wife without reciprocation, he prefers a mutually beneficial arrangement without sentimentality. However, he meets a charming widow with seemingly wonderful maternal instincts, and he can’t ignore the sparks between them. Perhaps a little passion wouldn’t be so unwelcome…
Everyone thinks Charlotte Dunthorpe is a widow, but she’s only pretending to be. When her dear friend invites her to a matchmaking house party that isn’t only for the purposes of marriage, Charlotte is tempted to indulge in a short liaison. Instead, the dashing and kind-hearted Rotherham offers her the chance for the family she always wanted. She must refuse or risk exposing her devastating secrets and ensuring the absolute ruin of all that she holds dear.
Such a sweet story! How can I get my own invite to one of these matchmaking house parties, I wonder? 😉 (We’ll just conveniently forget that they 1) took place many decades ago, and 2) are fictional. Don’t try to get me bogged down in details–or reality–please!)
Charlotte and Roth had amazing chemistry, but their respective histories made them both reject romance. Charlotte is the titular “make-believe widow” and hiding from her past–marriage, especially to an earl, is potentially problematic–and Roth *thought* he’d married for love the first time only to be betrayed in the end. His (absolutely adorable) daughters could really use a mother figure, though, which is why he accepts the Cosfords’ invite even though most of the people at the party claim to not be looking for matrimonial matches.
We’re on book 4 of successful, house party-influenced matrimonial matches, though, so… 😉
As always, Ms Burke did a great job of showing readers just how impossible it would be for her hero and heroine to be together…just before giving them a horrible black moment and then letting them finally figure out how to be together. It’s a tried and true formula and it works–and somehow makes the obligatory epilogue all the more sweeter <3
But, seriously–where’s my party invite, Cecilia?
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.