HOW TO MANAGE A MARQUESS by Sally MacKenzie
A Spinster House Novel , Book 2
Loves Bridge, England, 1817
For 200 years, the Dukes of Hart have never lived to see the birth of their heirs because of a curse laid upon them by the third duke's lover. The duke left Isabelle Dorring pregnant when he married another. Before she disappeared forever into the lake, Isabelle left her house in such a manner that a Duke of Hart would have to choose a local spinster to have use of the house as long as she was unmarried.
Young Marcus, the present duke, never knew his father, of course. He went to live with his father's sister, who was married to the Marquess of Haywood. That is how Marcus and his cousin Nathaniel grew up as brothers. Nate's mother constantly urged her son to watch out for the younger Marcus. In fact, on her death bed, she coaxed Nate, the marquess by then, to promise he would make sure Marcus didn't succumb to the curse. Not an easy task when a handsome and wealthy duke is the target of marriage minded ladies who wouldn't mind being left a rich widow.
Trouble started when Marcus reached thirty. He and Nate left London to travel home to Loves Bridge to fulfill his duties by selecting a new spinster after the last one eloped. There are three candidates: Miss Catherine Hutting, the vicar's daughter; Miss Anne Davenport, daughter of Baron Davenport, and Miss Jane Wilkinson, whose brother is an attorney. All three are friends but all have reasons to want the house: Catherine (Cat) Hutting to be a writer, difficult to do when coming from a large family. Anne is on the shelf, her father her only family. But that is about to change. Her father is courting a widow—younger than she—who has two little boys.
Attractions arise, and the men have choices. Marcus needs to think hard about marrying so young, even though some believe that true love can break the curse. Nate begins to fall for Anne, but he must focus on Marcus, who chafes at Nate's interference in his life. A lively and suspenseful romantic comedy ensues, one I highly recommend. It seems everything is against a happy outcome, everything but Poppy, that mysterious cat who loiters around the Spinster House.
The first Spinster House novel was WHAT TO DO WITH A DUKE, a super read, and Marcus and Nate have a friend, Alex, the Earl of Evans; surely he needs a love, too. HOW TO MANAGE A MARQUESS also includes a bonus novella, IN THE SPINSTER'S BED. You can't go wrong making room for all this fun reading. Sally MacKenzie is terrific.