Second in the Hellions of Halstead Hall Regency romance series. The couple focus is on Lord Jarret Sharpe and Annabel Lake.
An odd combination of Regency and contemporary dialog along with an inaccurate stance on the perceptions of the nobility toward trade [A viscount’s son is a barrister??] and a truly enlightened take on women in business and virgins.
I don’t really object too much to a loose approach to historical romances/stories, but I do object to using words too obviously not appropriate for the time period. “Gossip rag” wasn’t used until after 1915. “Cundum” almost merits a pass as it was used from about 1766 to 1775 and again after 1840 and “That should be my line” is definitely a contemporary phrase.
The story is cute enough, but too run-of-the-mill and not helped by the poor attention to dialog and manners. Let alone the discrepancy in the historical treatment of women. If Jeffries had put some effort into it, she could have created some real tension and not this bit of fluff.
The series plot line is discovering the truth behind the murder-suicide of their father and mother.
It’s 1825 and it’s shortly after Oliver and Maria’s wedding (see Truth About Lord Stoneville) and Gran is dying in her bed and she refuses to draw back from an ultimatum that all five Sharpe siblings will marry within a year or be cut out of her will. But Gran needs someone to manage the brewery and Jarret manages to work a deal whereby he is released from this marriage provision provided he manages the family brewery for two years.
Only, Jarret discovers the brewery is in trouble. A worry that is not helped by the brewster who forces her way into his office with an offer of her own. Although Jarret tells her he will talk to his grandmother, Annabel is not very trusting and she decides to follow him which results in a most unexpected bet and piques Lord Jarret’s interest even more. Enough to entice him to follow Annabel home where he discovers several buried secrets. Secrets that could rain shame down on the Lakes in so many different ways.
Jarret Sharpe has been angry with his Gran since she insisted he stop haunting the brewery and pay attention to his books. In retaliation, he’s been making a living gambling ever since. But now she’s maneuvered him back into it and he learns a whole new love.
Annabel Lake is the sister of the current owner of Lake Ale, her brother Hugh Lake. Hugh has become depressed and fallen into a vat of whiskey and their family brewery is in trouble. Her sister-in-law Sissy and their son Geordie have come with Annabel to present her sales idea to Mrs. Plumtree. Rupert is the fiancé who died in the war before he and Annabel could marry.
His other unmarried siblings include Gabe, a.k.a., the Angel of Death; Minerva who has retreated behind the books she writes; and, Celia. Oliver is off on his honeymoon trip with his new wife, Maria.
Hetty Plumtree is their common grandmother who has been running the Plumtree Brewery—the source of their wealth. She thought she had done the right thing in forcing Jarret to go to Eton and learn to be a gentleman lawyer or some such. Mr. Cope is Gran’s secretary and secret spy. Desmond Plumtree is a most hated cousin. Mrs. Cranley, a supposed friend of Sissy’s, deserves to have her inn catch fire.
Giles Masters is Jarret’s friend, a viscount’s son, and a barrister of some renown. Jackson Pinter is a Bow Street Runner Jarret has hired to look into his parents’ deaths.
The cover is casually hot with one hot male body in fawn trousers tucked into boots with his white linen shirt open to the waist lying across a straw-colored embroidered satin coverlet. We get just a hint of his strong jaw and shoulder-length dark hair.
The title is more wishful than real—it could apply to either party.