Let it Be Love
As I read Let It Be Love, I found myself wondering repeatedly how far must you suspend reality to enjoy a book? Oh, I find I can easily sink myself into Time Travel, Alternate Reality, or the fantasy of an overbearing Medieval captor evolving into a considerate hero once he has discovered his one true love. But when presented with a European Historical featuring supposedly sensible characters, how many implausible scenarios can be stacked on top of another before you cease to care what happens because it is just too far-fetched?
Fiona Fairchild is in a real fix. Twenty-five years of age with no husband, Fiona is reaping the fruit of being so picky about a husband all these years. Now responsible for her three younger stepsisters after their father’s death, Fiona is stunned when she discovers that her father has placed some rather stringent stipulations on her inheritance: she must marry or lose her inheritance, as well as her sisters’ substantial dowries. In addition, her father has chosen her future husband, a stranger from America. All Fiona knows is that if her prospective groom is anything like his father, she wants nothing to do with him. Packing up her belongings and her sisters, Fiona travels from France to England to the home of her aunt and cousin, the Earl of Norcroft, to seek their assistance in finding a husband before the American stranger arrives expecting her hand in marriage.
Jonathon Effington, the Marquess of Helmsley and heir to a dukedom, has finally admitted to his friends that he is contemplating marriage. Not especially serious about his disclosure and concentrating instead on a carefully planned amorous rendezvous during his family’s annual Christmas ball, Jonathon is pleased to find a beautiful woman he has never met joining him for his tryst – that is, until she asks him to marry her. Assuming that his friends are playing a joke on him, Jonathon accepts the woman’s proposal after hearing her tale of woe about her father’s strange will and something about her sisters’ dowries. Amused by the performance of this undoubtedly hired actress and pleased to play along, he is dismayed to find only minutes after their encounter that the lady’s proposal was most seriously made and that she is also the cousin of one of his closest friends, the Earl of Norcroft.
Realizing that he has indeed committed himself to a marriage he does not want, Jonathon is in a real dilemma – what is a future duke to do? His word is his honor, even if given in jest, and, although he must withdraw his acceptance, he can’t just leave the girl alone in the midst of her problems. Honor requires him to go above and beyond the call of duty and help her in any way he can, regardless of the cost either monetarily or in time. So begins a highly improbable series of events.
Jonathon comes up with a grand scheme to both raise funds for Fiona and preserve her pride and independence – which we all know is of primary importance for nineteenth century noblemen. In searching for an acceptable source of income for Fiona, Jonathan and his goodhearted friend Norcroft discover her talent for erotic drawing and decide to publish a book of her sketches along with a story that Jonathon himself will pen – all anonymously of course – and therein earn Fiona not only enough for her living expenses, but also enough to cover her stepsisters’ dowries. This sets the scene for numerous meetings between Jonathon and Fiona as they write this scandalous book together. Of course, Jonathon knows that the book will not earn the amount of money Fiona requires but that’s perfectly acceptable since he secretly plans on personally funding it all anyway.
It was never quite clear just why Fiona is in such a rush to marry. Yes, she needs some living expenses and wants to marry before her American suitor arrives, but he is just that – a suitor. He has no legal right over her since there is no official betrothal agreement. The will states that Fiona will receive her inheritance and her stepsisters’ dowries once she marries, but she has family in England more than willing to offer her any needed support. Can this be another case where everyone is once more bending over backwards to help save Fiona’s pride? The continued wavering of major plot lines made it difficult to determine the story’s true direction as well as making most of the characters appear irritatingly indecisive.
This is the eleventh in the Effington series and, while the back cover claims Jonathon is the naughtiest hero so far, it is a claim I must dispute. I saw Jonathon as simply a lackluster hero with little spine and few wicked inclinations. For those new to the series, the book does function well as a stand alone read.
I had not read one-fourth of Let It Be Love before I began deducting points from the leads’ IQ’s for their absurd displays of behavior. Along with the unbelievable story developments, the book was so tiresome that I cared little for the leads, their emerging story, or the predictable outcomes of this drawn-out plot. And I really tried to care.