Monday, April 25, 2016

ARC Review: How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzie

Series:  Spinster House #2
Pub. Date:  April 26, 2016
Publisher:  Zebra / Kensington
Pages:  352
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

How to Manage a Marquess takes place somewhat contemporaneously with the last part of What to Do with a Duke. I recommend you read the first book because you will need the backstory to understand the story of the Spinster House, and you meet all the characters in that first book.  If you haven't read the first book, the short of it is that Isabelle Dorring cursed the Dukes of Hart to perish before their heir is born. When Isabelle was jilted 200 years ago by the Duke, she took up residence in a house in Loves Bridge, now known as the Spinster House. Part of the curse requires that whenever the Spinster House becomes vacant, the current Duke of Hart must choose another spinster to live in the house. Unfortunately for Marcus (the current duke), three assertive spinsters are all vying for the chance to move in and aren't going to make the process easy for him.

The spinster featured in this book is Anne Davenport, only child to her widower father.  Anne's father is remarrying a girl younger than Anne, and she is feeling pushed out. I sympathized with Anne... it really did appear that her father and stepmother-to-be wanted her out of the house. Even if that was not their intention, they certainly did not attempt to clear up any misunderstanding or reassure Anne in any way. Sally MacKenzie did a good job with this aspect of the story and drew you into an emotional connection with Anne so you got invested in her plight. 

The hero of this installment is Nate, Marquess of Haywood, cousin to the Duke of Hart. Nate and Marcus grew up extremely close and Nate made a promise to his dying mother than he would always watch out for Marcus and save him from the curse. Nate has attempted to do just that, to the detriment of his own romantic life.  But when Marcus becomes interested in Isabelle Hutting, current spinster, Marcus starts to chafe under Nate's constant surveillance. Dogging Marcus' steps has Nate running into the spinsters quite a bit, and there are sparks flying between him and Anne Davenport. I admired Nate and his loyalty to Marcus, even when Marcus didn't appreciate it. I liked that Nate couldn't quite help himself and seemed to be a caretaker of anyone he came across. I loved that he stuck up for Anne against her stepmother and father.

The romance in the story was slow building. Anne didn't want to be beholden to a man, and Nate thought he couldn't marry until he was sure Marcus was out of danger of the curse. But the attraction between the H/h was steady even when they denied what they were feeling. I liked seeing them grow closer together, particularly with the added company of Anne's stepbrothers. 

There was one small plothole that I was curious about - and that was why Nate's mom was so worried about Marcus.  There were some death bed ramblings that I don't think were fully explained, and it left me curious for the rest of the book.

But overall, this was a light fun story and I have enjoyed the antics happening in Loves Bridge. I received an advanced copy of this book from Zebra/Kensington via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars / 2 flames.

Spinster House