I have wished that more romance novels had South American settings, so when I found out that this book was a Regency Romance that took place partly in Peru (where I was born and raised) and had a Peruvian as a secondary character, I was intrigued. Let’s face it, your usual plot involving South American characters or locations are of the Proof of Life variety (evil locals harming Americans) or involve drug lords or archeology. Unfortunately, a few glimpses of my motherland were not enough to save a story that has the fatal flaw of a thoroughly unlikable heroine.
Emily Fairfield has been left with a mountain of debts after the death of her husband. She has her son, Peter, and her mother, Cora to look after and the only way out seems to be marriage to her neighbor, Rafe Warrender. Rafe has wanted Emily for a long time, and he now seems to have finally schemed his way into her bed. Now that Emily’s year of mourning is over, she agrees to marry Rafe, who will, after all, take care of her financial problems, but asks him to wait until Christmas Eve to actually marry. Emily is not the only one who wishes to delay the inevitable; both Cora and Peter dislike Rafe intensely as well.
Cora explains that she regrets not having gone with the love of her life when he went adventuring in South America, but she doesn’t tell the whole story. Felix Reynolds lies ill in a hacienda in Callao, Peru, where he tells his friend Jack Lincoln (whose inheritance was stolen by a relative), that he must go back to England and help Felix’s daughter, Emily. Emily doesn’t know Felix is her real father, but Felix had left some money for Cora, and when Cora asked the solicitor for the money, he replied he didn’t know anything about it. A reluctant Jack agrees to set sail for England along with Cristoval, who owns the hacienda, and an Inca servant named Manco.
Emily is instantly attracted to Jack, even has an erotic dream about him soon after meeting him, but orders him to leave the house after they kiss. She starts out as honorable if a little dull, then turns shrill and irritating. In fact, and I’m hardly a fan of meddling women, I ended up liking Cora a lot better than her daughter. Even Peter, who starts off as a sullen boy who likes to stalk people, grows up a little and befriends his former nemesis. Jack confronts Rafe, who has one more card up his sleeve, but they are helped by Manco’s powerful Inca magic, although my guess is that if the Incas really had had powerful magic, they would not have been slaughtered by the conquistadors.
Although having an Inca servant with magical powers in a Regency was a bit of a stretch, this wasn’t my main problem with Easy Conquest. No, the problem is the shrill and unlikable Emily. There are also some predictable coincidences such as the connection between Rafe and Jack, and a rather ludicrous scene where the solictor, out of the blue, sits down next to Cristoval at a café and spills some important documents, one of which is addressed to Rafe Warrender. As much as I was looking forward to Easy Conquest, I was disappointed in its execution.