THE HUSBAND LIST - Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly
St. Martin's Press
New York City; Newport, Rhode Island, and London - 1894
Caroline Maxwell, pretty, adventurous, and a wealthy heiress, is hardly the young woman her mother expects her to be. Oh, she tries her best to please her upwardly mobile mother, but in her heart, all Caroline wants is to have the same freedoms as her brother Eddie has. Not to mention the friendship he has with Jack Culhane, Irish-American, happy-go-lucky, newly rich, and totally unsuitable for one such as Caroline Maxwell-according to Mrs. Maxwell anyway. And now the Maxwell matriarch is bound and determined to have a duchess in the family. Lord Bremerton, who will inherit the dukedom someday, is in New York hoping to return to England with a rich wife, and Mrs. Maxwell will make sure that it will be Caroline.
As the family moves to their summer home in Newport, parties and soirees are planned to throw Caroline and Bremerton together. Miserable, Caroline does her best to please her mother while also avoiding the Englishman and his quest for her hand. Besides, Jack is in Newport also, so it's inevitable that they'll see each other at some point. Jack is unaware that Caroline carries a torch for him until she manages to make that emotion clear to him. She also reveals that Bremerton may not be all that he pretends to be, although she cannot put a finger on what is really going on with him.
The sudden trip to England when Bremerton returns, hinting to Caroline's mother that it would behoove her to take her daughter there, not to mention an accident just before they leave, has Jack concerned about Caroline's wellbeing. All the while, Mrs. Maxwell appears oblivious to her daughter's feelings, as well as to Bremerton's coldness.
Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly have teamed up on this highly amusing, witty novel of romance and mystery. Caroline dearly loves her parents, but is truly not at all what her mother wishes her to be. One cannot be adventurous and be a good English wife. Several background stories add to the fun of this book, as do the many well written characters. The authors have done their research well, too, as the descriptions of Newport in the gilded age are spot on-I should know, I live in Newport!
For a thoroughly enjoyable read, fans of Evanovich and Kelly cannot go wrong with THE HUSBAND LIST.