Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lord Nicholas St. John has been hounded by matchmaking mamas and their devious debutantes ever since a popular women's magazine published a ridiculous article touting him as a "Lord to Land," complete with silly instructions on the best ways to do so. When a friend from his school days approaches Nick seeking help locating his missing sister, Nick grabs at the excuse to leave London far behind.
Lady Isabel Townsend is struggling to keep her young brother's estate afloat after their father, the "Wastrearl," abandoned them, died, and left them penniless. Their home is actually a secret refuge for battered and beaten women and unwed mothers, but if they can't find a way to fix the leaking roof (among other things) and raise enough money to send the young earl off to school, "Minerva House" might be forced to shut down.
Nick and Isabel's paths collide when Nick tracks his school chum's sister to the village near Isabel's home. Isabel has read the infamous article, but what she gleaned from it was that Nicholas is an antiquities expert--exactly the sort of person she requires to assess her prized collection of statues in preparation for selling them off to raise the funds they so desperately need. She invites Nick and his friend to come evaluate the sculptures, planning to simply prevent him from ever meeting her brother's new governess, knowing that the two have likely met before and would recognize each other, but unaware that he's only there because he is actually searching for Georgiana.
Although both have sworn off marriage and love, sparks fly amongst the ancient statues, and secrets cannot be hidden for very long. It was a decent idea for a plot; my reason for only rating it 3 stars (which is quite generous) is that Isabel turns from a strong, independent woman into a ninny when Nicholas is present, and that is a TERRIBLE foundation for an ongoing relationship. (For more on that topic, see http://www.understandmen.com/ ) I felt like the characterizations weren't consistent and believable, and given the constraints of the time, the sex began absurdly early.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, character & setting secondary. The story takes place in 1823 in England. There are a number of fairly explicit sex scenes.
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