A Man of Affairs
Seth Lindow is the adopted son of the Duke of Derwent. He is a capable and intelligent man and serves the duke as his man of affairs. The duke’s biological son and heir, the Marquis of Belincourt, is a problem. Bel is not just wild, he sometimes acts as if he is insane. Sowing your wild oats is one thing, but Bel falls into rages and beats his servants. His reputation is such that many in Society will not receive him, even if he is the heir to a dukedom.
The Duke of Derwent decides that marriage will settle Bel down. He sends Seth to check out the Beckett family. Lord Beckett is a minor baron who is a bit crude, but he does have two marriagable daughters, one of whom might be persuaded to overlook Bel’s behavior for the social advantages of being a duchess.
Lord Beckett’s two daughters could not be more different. The youngest, Zoe is beautiful, but she is a silly little flirt who behaves outrageously. Eden, the oldest, is not conventionally beautiful, but she is calm, intelligent and a talented artist who loves to paint and garden. Seth is very attracted to her.
At a party at the Duke of Derwent’s house, Zoe Beckett behaves in a scandalous manner. She openly insults another guest and when Bel comes in acting drunk and disorderly, Zoe ogles him and even waltzes with him. The duke is outraged and feels that calm, quiet, intelligent Eden is the woman to marry Bel. Eden will behave with dignity and will not mind being left in the country if Bel decides to go on a tear in London. Derwent’s edict is not to Seth’s liking because he admires Eden very much, but Seth is not nobly born and the duke has spoken. But the duke cannot command the heart. Zoe is quite attracted to Bel and he to her while Seth is more and more in love with Eden. But Seth is bound by gratitude to the Duke of Derwent, and Eden yearns to be an independent artist.
The best part of A Man of Affairs is the characters of Eden and Seth. Both of them are strong and intelligent, and they love the same things in life – art, gardening, and country life. Poor Seth is neither fish nor fowl. He is handsome, rich and the adopted son of the Duke of Derwent, but he is the natural son of a soldier and serves his father as a servant – a very upper servant to be sure, but Society still treats him more as a servant than as a son. And Seth is so bound by honor and obligation that he can’t make himself leave the Duke’s service – until he meets Eden.
I had a problem with Bel and Zoe. Zoe spends much of the novel acting like a silly little chit with not a lot of brains or character, yet Bel falls in love with her and she with him and it is implied that her love is true and sincere. I could not believe it of this silly young girl. Also, the reason for Bel’s behavior is something I have not seen in a Regency Romance before this, but his recovery strains credibility (a fact the author acknowledges in her afterward).
Though the strong secondary romance somewhat marred A Man of Affairs, I enjoyed the strong characters of Seth and Eden. I enjoy books where the main characters share interests and activities other than a healthy lust for one another. Makes me feel like their relationship will last after I close the book.