BOOK BLURB: The Dreamer
Lady Wilhelmina “Willow” Hunnicut has always dreamed of leaving tranquil Surrey for sights and sounds London. She is a talented designer and has aspirations as grand as London’s finest mansions. But an unmarried heiress dare not relocate to the capital city alone, and her parents have forbidden the move. A married woman, however, may come and go as she pleases, not a hint of scandal. With this in mind, Lady Willow writes an advertisement that offers her dowry to potential husbands as bait. She is determined to conveniently marry any man who will give her his name and then otherwise walk, ride, or sail away.
Lord Brent Caulder, the Earl of Cassin, lives in one of the last-remaining castles in Yorkshire, but it is a castle in decline. The tenants are listless and destitute, his mother and sisters are barely getting by. It’s Cassin’s fault, unfortunately, because he’s sealed the dangerous mines that have brought the earldom prosperity for generations. Now he must discover a safe alternative or his people will starve.
Relief comes in the form of an advertisement from a London investor. But when the “investor” is revealed to be a young woman and the money her dowry, Cassin must decide if he’s desperate enough to marry a stranger. The deal hinges on one stipulation: bride and groom will go their separate ways after the wedding and never look back.
When a family crisis forces the estranged couple to travel home to Yorkshire, Cassin seeks aid and solace from the new wife he barely knows. Lady Willow embraces the heated attraction that sizzles between them, and Cassin comes to see her as more than a financial backer, he falls in love with her as his wife.
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Something, Cassin thought, is not quite right.
He turned a slow circle in the center of a parlor that was so blue, it appeared to be submerged underwater. Blue walls, blue furnishings, blue rugs. Every known shade. He’d been held in the underwater room for more than a half an hour. His coat and gloves and hat had not been taken. Tea had not been offered. Unless he was mistaken, he’d been shown inside by a gardener.
Up and down the main corridor, doors opened and closed, but no one looked in. A scrum of four or five small dogs, little more than scuttling puffs of fur, roamed in and out en masse, alternately sniffing at his boots or barking.
I should have brought my sword, he thought, leaning against the indigo wall. Another dog admitted himself into the room and tapped over to him on sharp, tiny claws. Man and dog studied one another.
“By definition,” Cassin recited to the dog, “golden opportunities feel rare and different.” The dog barked once.
His own Barbadoes venture was nothing if not rare and different. He could allow for some strangeness in order to be granted the same.
“And the villagers didn’t blanch when I asked for W.J. Hunnicut,” Cassin continued to the dog. “Perfectly happy to give directions. No one batted an eye.”
This wasn’t entirely true. The villagers in nearby Pixham had known the surname Hunnicut, but they seemed oddly clueless about the illustrious “W. J.” It had been the first of a growing list of inconsistencies. But the house to which he’d been directed was grand and the grounds expansive. Inside, the art on the walls was valuable, the furnishings fine. The gardener had shown appropriate deference when Cassin presented his card and introduced himself as earl. All of it amounted to precisely what the advertisement had claimed: Here lived an investor with so much money he was looking for new and diverse ways to spend it. If Cassin’s reception had been odd, he had turned up unannounced. With no letter of introduction. He’d caught the old man off guard.
Then again, I am a bloody earl, Cassin thought. And an earl called with no forewarning.
“Begging your pardon, my lord,” said a cheerful voice from the doorway. Cassin turned.
It was the gardener, extending his hand to the corridor. “Sorry to keep you waiting, my lord. Right this way, if you please. And allow me to take your coat and hat.”
Cassin hesitated two beats, exchanged glances with the dog, and followed the man out of the room.
REVIEW: This is the first book in Charis Michaels’s new The Brides of Belgravia series and since she blew me away with her first series, my expectations were very high. Did she meet them? Let me say this, she not just met them but exceeded them!
I was so happy to see that she’s still using her wonderful prose to show me her complex characters. The pace of this story is faster than the first series and the dialogue pure bliss.
I’ve read many ‘marriage of convenience’ stories an so did you, right? It’s a trope that has been used so many times that sometimes it can feel over the top and boring. However, this is not that time. This was a unique, entertaining and an interesting take on the oft used trope of a marriage of convenience.
The reason this story worked are its main characters. She was strong and independent, while he was strong and loyal. They truly were yin and yang to one another. Their union had so much going for it and their finding out that happy place of happily ever after is a journey that neither expected or even wanted, but take it they did and the love it brought them was worth it.
I am really looking forward to the rest of this series!
Melanie for b2b
Gift ARC provided by the publisher
AUTHOR BIO: USA Today bestselling author Charis Michaels believes a romance novel is a very long, exciting answer to the question: “So, how did you two meet?” It’s a question she loves to answer again and again with different characters, each time she writes a book.
Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.