I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t read nearly as much historical romance novels as I used to, but this is still a genre that I enjoy. When I received the opportunity to read Caroline Linden’s What A Gentlemen Wants, I was excited about being able to return to the world of 19th century England and its aristocracy.
Hannah is the widow of the vicar in a small village halfway between London and Brighton. One day, a gentleman crashes his rig near her house, and because she is a kind and gentle soul, Hannah agrees that David can recuperate at her house. David is charmed by Hannah’s gentle nature, and asks for her hand in marriage. At the last minute, he panics at the thought of having to give up his “rake card” and signs his twin brother Marcus’ name in the parish register.
Marcus is a duke, and is livid at his brother’s prank. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he is unable to send Hannah and her daughter back to their village. He asks Hannah if she will perpetuate the story that David has spread, and pretend to be his (Marcus’) wife. Initially, Hannah is not thrilled about having to play the role of duchess, but she realizes that there are certain advantages. Marcus’ stepmother and stepsister are kind to her, and she enjoys spending time in his house. Marcus and Hannah do not see each other often, but every time that they do, their connection is becoming harder to deny.
In addition to maintaining the ruse that he has recently married, Marcus is also trying to track down a counterfeiter. The last part of the book is quite thrilling as secrets are revealed, and as our dear friend Sherlock would say, the game is afoot.
There was one small thing that I noticed. It did not affect my enjoyment of the book, but it stood out to me. The duchess’ room in Marcus’ London house has a staircase that leads to the nursery. I have no doubts that Hannah would appreciate this feature, but aristocratic women of this era handed their over to servants to raise, and only saw them briefly during the day. The children would not have unfettered access to their mother like that.
I enjoyed this book. I thought that the build-up to Marcus and Hannah’s big romantic moment was very plausible. They did not have the “insta-love” that you can sometimes see; initially, they are both annoyed with the other. There are some subtle moments- a fleeting look, brushing past, etc. It is clear that the tension is building, and when things finally come together- well, it was certainly a memorable moment. Overall, the characters were well developed and I appreciated the inclusion of the mystery. I was surprised when the villain of the piece was revealed, and I’m usually the first one to figure things out.
I would recommend What A Gentlemen Wants. This book was actually written ten years ago, and it is being rereleased at the end of January. If you do not want to wait that long, it is currently available for the Kindle! I am pleased to have discovered Caroline Linden, and I am looking forward to reading about Marcus’ siblings and their stories!