A Marquis in Want of a Wife
A Marquis in Want of a Wife is the third installment in Louise Allen’s Liberated Ladies series – They have no wish to conform and be drawn into society’s marriage mart, unless they can find gentleman who value and cherish them for who they truly are…and not the size of their dowries. In this book, our heroine Prudence Scott has gotten it all wrong. She thought she’d found the right man, she’d given him her virginity, and then found out that he bedded her for a bet not out of love. Now she must find a man to marry in case she finds herself in a delicate condition.
Ross Vincent, the Marquis of Cranford, is looking for a mother for his infant son. His wife passed a few months earlier and he desperately doesn’t want his son to suffer from a lack of maternal love. He uncharacteristically explains his dilemma to Verity, the Duchess of Aylesham, at a small party and she (a former Liberated Lady) concocts a plan for Ross and Prue to meet each other and see if a marriage of convenience could be made. They meet and find that they are willing to marry.
Ross became a Marquis after making a fortune as a Privateer. He grew up outside of the aristocracy and is known as the East End Aristocrat; he has given up privateering and now owns a lucrative shipping business. Prue is a scholar of Greek and Roman literature and spends her time translating ancient texts. Outside of their mutual care for Ross’ son, they plan to spend their days and nights apart. They develop a friendship based on respect but soon start having deeper feelings.
Ms. Allen does a lovely job letting the reader into the heads of Ross and Prue and showing us their deepest feelings. The emotional journey for both characters is well done, with realistic arguments and hurt feelings balanced with hopefulness and fear of what could be lost if their friendship becomes something more. Both Prue and Ross are very well developed and easy to sympathize with. Prue wishes for a true friendship in marriage, and her struggle is to find the willpower to not wish for more. Ross was so desperate to find a mother for his child that he gave no thought to what his relationship with that mother would be. He is relieved to find a friendship with Prue and disturbed to find himself physically attracted to her. His struggle is to tamp down those feelings and stick to the original – safe – plan.
Typically the marriage of convenience trope is more about the emotional journey made by the couple and less about outside perils. But in A Marquis in Want of a Wife, Ms. Allen also succeeds in giving the reader a believable and entertaining adventure. This was a nice surprise and adds an exciting backdrop for those emotional journeys.
A Marquis in Want of a Wife is my favorite of this series and could definitely be read as a standalone. Readers of Ms. Allen will be pleased with this offering and for those new to her work, this is a lovely place to start.