The Marchioness of Darlington wants nothing more than to be a mother, but after nearly three childless years of marriage, Poppy believes she is barren. Her sadness is eclipsed by anger and hurt, however, when she learns that her husband does not share her despair, and she suspects he is having an affair. Unsure where to turn, she distances herself from him and rededicates herself to helping the women and children at the poorhouse—they are all she has.
Gabriel Kirkwood, the Marquess of Darlington, is certain his wife will die in childbirth just like her mother, his mother, and his sister, so he is relieved when they are unable to conceive. Even so, he knows how desperately she wants a child and watching her struggle with her disappointment is a knife in his heart. When he meets a young pregnant woman who doesn’t want her baby, he glimpses a possibility to give his beloved a happy ever after. But feeling Poppy slip away, he only hopes it won’t be too late.
The Gift of the Marquess is Ms Burke’s first foray into writing an already-married couple, and is loosely based on The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Like the other books in this series, it’s a holiday novella and a pleasant way to pass an afternoon as the weather starts to change.
I liked Poppy and Gabriel’s story; their conflict was as heartbreaking as it was realistic. It was clear that they loved each other, but equally clear that neither was quite sure how to bridge their differences. They both got a little bit of help with that (Poppy from her sister Bianca of The Red Hot Earl and Gabriel from an unexpected source) and manage to work their way to an extremely sweet HEA at the end.
I wasn’t totally comfortable with the original solution that they came up with for “fixing” their problems (involving one of the women from the charity home they support), though it helped that they weren’t always 100% comfortable with it either. Ultimately I was pleased with the way their situation resolved itself, though I had hoped they’d eventually go with their other option. Maybe they still will in the future?
The Gift of the Marquess is the second book in Ms Burke’s Love is all Around trilogy. Some of the events occur concurrently with that book, but this one could still be read as a standalone.
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.