Fourth in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Dear Lady Truelove series, Heiress Gone Wild takes a different direction to the earlier books and features a heroine looking to be a wife and make a home. Marjorie McGann is done being left behind and is taking charge of her future, hoping to find a husband and a home even if that means sneaking aboard a ship heading for London.
Marjorie has been a student and then teacher at Forsyte Academy in New York since her mother died when she was seven and her father placed her there and went out west to make his fortune. Her father has been pledging to return for her but thirteen years later, Marjorie is still there and is now an orphan and an heiress. She is ready for her life to finally begin.
Jonathan Deverill was Billy McGann’s best friend and business partner, and on his deathbed, Billy begged Jonathan to be the guardian of his little girl. Jonathan couldn’t refuse. He shows up at Forsyte Academy ready to meet this little girl and confirm that she is doing well there (and then be off to London and South Africa) only to find that Marjorie is not a child. She is a beautiful woman – a beautiful woman with a dream of going to London and finding a titled husband just like her friends. Jonathan is flummoxed. He denies her request to accompany him and promises to make all the arrangements for her time in London and come back for her after his stop in South Africa. Marjorie has heard that before. She takes matters into her own hands and sneaks aboard his ship to London.
Jonathan is shocked to find Marjorie in his stateroom. But Marjorie is a resourceful woman and has already secured a chaperone (a questionable Russian baroness) and has plans to enjoy her voyage. Jonathan thinks not – she is supposed to be in mourning, she needs more respectability than the baroness provides, she needs to be thinking of her reputation. Marjorie and Jonathan butt heads throughout the voyage until one night when Jonathan saves her from an encroaching suitor and ends up kissing her himself.
Feeling like a cad (and horrible guardian), Jonathan sets Marjorie up with a more respectable chaperone and avoids her like the plague. Marjorie is confused over his hot and cold responses to her but she knows that falling for Jonathan would be a big mistake – she is done waiting for men with wanderlust to come home and is determined never to be left behind again. When they arrive in London, Jonathan places her with his sisters and makes plans to travel to South Africa to secure some of Marjorie’s inheritance. But his sisters have other plans and Jonathan ends up staying in London (and near Marjorie) much longer than planned.
Heiress Gone Wild is all about discovering what you really want in life. Marjorie thinks she wants to be a matron in London society, spending her days shopping, having tea, and exchanging gossip.
I am going to laugh and dance and enjoy myself and wear whatever colors I please. I’m going to do the season, meet young men, fall in love, and get married. And when I do, you can bet the man I choose will be a better husband and father than Billy McGann ever dreamed of being. I intend to have a real home and a real family and a life worth living, and I don’t give a damn if any of that breaks rules of propriety, offends society, or inconveniences you.
Jonathan isn’t sure what he wants anymore. As a young man, he wanted to inherit his grandfather’s newspaper business but his grandfather died without a will and the business went to his shifty father. Trying to save the paper, Jonathan had words with his father and was thrown out of the family. For years, his only goal was to return to London a rich, self-made man and take over Deverill Publishing. Now he’s rich, his father is dead, and his sisters are running the business. He’s not sure where that leaves him. He just knows a man shouldn’t lust after his ward.
I was a little worried by the book’s title which made me think that Marjorie would be an obnoxious American trying to break into British society without a thought for its rules and traditions. At first it appears that way, but she quickly settles down. Her interactions with Jonathan on the ship reminded me of old Cary Grant films – the hero being a little stuffy and thrown off kilter by a madcap ginger. The early scenes between the two of them are delightful, although sadly, the middle part dragged a little as Jonathan was desperately trying to avoid Marjorie and Marjorie was experiencing British society. In this part of the story, their interactions were mainly physical followed by great regret from Jonathan. I was mildly put-off by Jonathan’s on and off attention to Marjorie but Ms. Guhrke does a nice job giving the reader insight into Jonathan’s thinking and I found myself more sympathetic than irritated. In fact, the character we get to know the most about is Jonathan – a nice change from so many historical romances.
The thing I liked most about Heiress Gone WIld was that once Jonathan realized what he felt for Marjorie was love, he was all in for himself but respectful of Marjorie’s desires and concerns. He sought to find a way they could be together without either of them compromising too much. I also enjoyed visiting with the characters from the previous books in the series. Ms. Guhrke always does a nice job interspersing her books with the perfect amount of side characters.
Fans of the Dear Lady Truelove series will likely be pleased with this addition. In the end, I liked Heiress Gone Wild, but not as much as some of the other books in the series and not as much as some of Ms. Guhrke’s other books. It’s well-written and held my attention but I don’t imagine I’ll go back and read it again.
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