Desert Isle Keeper
My Fair Baron
My Fair Baron, the first book in the Romance Remade series, is the début novel by Licie Laine. It’s a delightful romp featuring a couple in a pretty unusual situation.
Lady Claire leads a most unconventional life. For the past couple of years, the twenty-year-old has been living on her own, making a living writing a newspaper serial. She sees absolutely no reason to change things until her older brother, who is her only living relative, dies suddenly. It is then she learns that, in order to inherit her family’s estate, she must marry by her twenty-first birthday which is less than a month away.
As one might imagine, Claire is quite taken aback by this news, and has no idea how she’s going to manage to find a husband in such a short time. Luckily, her long time best friend Izzy, a rather mysterious woman whose life is even more unconventional than Claire’s, comes up with a plan that just might be the answer to Claire’s dilemma.
Izzy is a very rich young lady. The author doesn’t go into exactly how this came about, but the reader is given to understand that she has gone against her family’s wishes and started a series of businesses which have turned out to be quite successful. Apparently, some of her business ventures go against society’s idea of what a gently bred lady should have involved herself in, but Izzy seems immune to any negative consequences that might result from her choices. One of these businesses is a bordello of sorts, and one of her employees is an impoverished baron with whom she’s struck up a friendship.
Izzy knows William Knightley longs to get out of his current situation, so she suggests he and Claire pretend to be madly in love and, after a whirlwind courtship, get married. It will, of course, be a marriage in name only, and the two will separate after a few years. Claire will give William a cash settlement at the time of their separation, and both will walk away happy.
Both Claire and William have some reservations about Izzy’s scheme, but it’s an offer that’s too good to pass up, so they decide to go along with it. Claire’s reasons for doing so are pretty straightforward, but William’s are pretty complicated, and aren’t fully revealed until about midway through the story. Readers may find themselves a little baffled by some of his choices, but that confusion should clear up once the secrets of his past are revealed.
Neither Claire nor William has spent time in society, so they both have a lot to learn. Luckily, Izzy is able to provide them with enough information to get them by. At first, I found this a little hard to swallow, since both leads are expected to learn huge amounts of information in a very short time. However, Ms. Laine made it easy for me to suspend my disbelief, and I found myself pulling for William and Claire as they attempted to pull off their grand deception.
Will is a truly delightful hero. He’s socially awkward, but he’s not the least bit bumbling. Instead, he comes across as very earnest and shy, and these qualities endeared him to me pretty much from the start. I loved watching him become comfortable as a society gentleman, a role he never expected to play, but which he handles with grace and charm. His relationship with Claire is slow and gentle, with an underlying sexual tension that practically sizzles.
Claire is independent and very studious. She likes being in charge of her own life and is desperate to maintain her independence after she and William are married. Fortunately, he has no need to control her, and, once she really starts to view him as an ally, she relaxes and starts to blossom.
Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put this book down. It’s a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I loved it for that. Sometimes, I want to lose myself in a book that seems to be written to make its readers feel good, and that’s exactly what I got here. It’s laugh-out-loud funny in places, but it also possesses some scenes of remarkable tenderness. My Fair Baron is everything I want in a historical romance.
The epilogue seems to be the set up for Ms. Laine’s next novel, and it looks like Izzy will be getting her HEA soon. I can’t wait to learn more about this enigmatic young lady and the man who wins her heart. I hope I don’t have to wait too long for its release.