Willa is a 23 year-old young lady in a time where she should already be married with children. However, four years earlier, her childhood friend and love, Augustus, humiliated her and destroyed her reputation completely obliterating any chance for possible suitors.
Augustus, or Gus, devised a plan that would compromise Willa’s “innocence” in order to force his father into allowing them to marry; a plan which both succeeded and failed. Willa’s virtue was compromised but Gus’s father still didn’t allow them to marry, leaving Willa with a broken heart and tarnished reputation.
The story begins--four years after Willa’s humiliation--with Gus’s father taking his final breaths and passing the title of Earl of Bellingham onto his first son, which is Gus. Gus wastes no time in showing up uninvited to Willa’s sister’s coming out party a few days later with the news that his father is dead and he is ready to claim Willa as his wife. Willa has grown up in four years and has learned she can be happy without a man and enjoys her independence. She has no desire for any marriage proposals, especially not from this slimy creep.
As fate would have it, that same night Willa meets the dashing Duke of Hartwell. He has just returned after years of doing business abroad and is mysteriously sexy and an unmerciful flirt. After one dance the duke is intrigued and sets to court the lovely Willa. After years of discourteous stares and rumors, Willa has two suitors vying for her hand.
While Willa is against taking anyone to marry, Hartwell is slowly getting under her skin. The rivalry between suitors heats up when intentions are made known and Willa realizes that her suitors’ have a mutual hatred for one another stemming from their times back in school at Cambridge.
Instead of feeling flattered of being pursued by dueling suitors, Willa gets the feeling that she is only a trophy in the game these men are playing. Can Willa separate truth from lies or will her best-laid plans be destroyed by the one thing that has eluded her the most; love.
It is a well-known fact that I am not a fan of historical romances. But somehow Diana Quincy has made me a believer. Her stories are intriguing, her characters are brilliantly written and the dialogue is witty and hilarious. I really enjoyed reading about Willa and all her follies with these gentlemen. Well, one gentlemen and one complete jerk. Gus was a real piece of work and a total d-bag.
I completely fell in love with Hartwell. He was a terrible flirt but when he loved, he loved hard and put Willa’s happiness above his own, even if it meant they weren’t to be together.
Chronologically, this book takes place before Seducing Charlotte, the first book in the Accidental Peers series. I think I need to go back and reread it to find out how Willa and her chosen suitor are doing. This is an excellent book. Diana Quincy is an amazing writer and I’m looking forward to what’s next in the series.
Reviewed by Elizabeth for Cocktails and Books