The MacGregor's Lady
This latest offering from the very prolific Grace Burrowes (book three of her MacGregor series) is another well written story that fans will love. It has a few problems that kept it from being another DIK from this author, but a less than perfect effort by Burrowes is still better than most. The book is also the third in the series, but Burrowes gives enough backstory that reading the first two books is not necessary. However, readers of romance should read those books and any others by this author. She is that good.
Hannah Cooper is an American heiress who has been sent to England to find a husband. An acquaintance with Baron Fenimore places Hannah and her Aunt Enid in the hands of Fenimore’s nephew Asher MacGregor, the ninth Earl of Balfour. The problem with Hannah is she has absolutely no desire to find a husband. All she wants to do is get back to Boston as soon as she can to protect her elderly grandmother from her abusive stepfather, but Hannah is also biding her time. If she can make it to her 25th birthday, the fortune her father left her will be hers alone and no longer managed by her stepfather. Of course her stepfather has every intention of continuing to have access to that fortune by approving the marriage settlements with any prospective bridegroom. Hence, his laudanum-addicted sister Enid is his chaperone of choice.
In the first book of the MacGregor series, Ian MacGregor had assumed the title of Earl of Balfour when his older brother Asher was been missing for six years in the Canadian wilderness and presumed dead. The MacGregor’s Lady jumps over any details of his miraculous return and the story begins after Asher has taken on his role of Earl for several months. Asher has been ordered by his uncle, Baron Fenimore, to squire the Cooper ladies about town during the season and to look for a bride himself in the process. His first impression of Hannah is not particularly a good one. She is distant and bordering on rude, but after she confesses her plans to Asher while they are stranded during a snowstorm, a friendship begins to develop between the two. Both feel like outsiders and both know what it is to be separated from family. Slowly but surely, these two tormented souls begin to fall in love. Unfortunately duty and obligation keeps Asher and Hannah from a happy union. Asher has years to make up for foisting his own duty off on Ian and Hannah has to take care of her imperiled family back in Boston. It seems like a happy ending is impossible for these two.
Grace Burrowes is a born writer and I have yet to read a book by her that did not include a strong sense of time and place. The MacGregor’s Lady is another such book and the reader very quickly becomes immersed in the feeling of Victorian England. Her descriptive language is just wonderful and never strays into the tortured or rambling descriptions that trip up a less experienced writer. Asher’s journey and his character are slowly revealed throughout the story and that story is so poignant that a few tears might be spilled by readers. Hannah begins the book as a prickly character, but it does not take long to understand that underneath that demeanor is a very concerned and loving person. She loves her family and wants to protect them even at the cost of her own happiness. The star-crossed lovers trope works for the most part. Burrowes brings the entire MacGregor family into the mix and her secondary character of Enid Cooper, spinster aunt, is a hoot.
So what kept this book from receiving an A from me? Just a few quibbles. Miss Enid Cooper is the sister of Hannah’s stepfather, yet they have the same last name. The solution to the problem of Asher and Hannah being together was much easier than it was made out to be in the book and strained the believability factor somewhat. That should not keep any Grace Burrowes fans from immediately snatching up this book though. It is another in a long string of winners by this author who does not seem to be slowing down one bit in her creative output.