What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden
Sarah Preston has been recently widowed and is not looking forward to leaving the vicarage moving herself and her daughter, Molly, back in to her father's house. When Lord David Reece is injured while racing his carriage through her small village she takes him in and tends to his broken wounds. David proposes to Sarah thinking that Sarah will calm him and that the marriage will get Sarah out of her difficult situation but it is not long before he begins panicking about what marriage will mean for his love of gambling, whoring, drinking, and horse racing. He devises a plan to get back at his twin brother, Marcus, for all the times that Marcus has interfered in his life and signs Marcus' name on the register. He packs Sarah and Molly off to his brother's London townhouse and leaves town- after informing the London Times, sending a quick note to Marcus, and dropping by to inform his stepmother and his sister about the marriage. Marcus originally intends to figure out how to stop the marriage, but seeing how happy the marriage has made his female relatives, and discovering that all of London already believes him marriage he decides the easier solution will be to just pretend to be married and then pack her off to the country later.
Sarah is outraged when she discovers what David has done and she originally intends to just leave and go back to the country, but she decides to go along with his plan as the only real solution. What neither expected was that they would find themselves immensely attracted to the other. At first this attraction is only physical but as the two get to know each other Marcus finds himself laughing and enjoying himself for the first time in a long time and Sarah discovers that this taciturn man is actually very caring, sensitive, and quite humorous. Both begin to realize that merely pretending to be married is not enough for them but Marcus fears that because of his responsibilities and his stern upbringing he can never make Sarah happy. Just as things begin to look up for Sarah and Marcus, David returns and brings with him some very sensitive secrets. The men he has been laundering counterfeit money for have come back for repayment and it turns out that someone very close to the family has it out for both brothers. Together Sarah and Marcus have to work together to put down the bad guys and work through the possibility that they can make each other happy for the rest of their lives.
Sarah is quite an amazing characters; she is very strong, she knows what she wants, and she has very real moments of weakness such as when she agrees to marry David. She admits her mistakes and tries to make the best of things while being an utterly devoted mother. Molly is a well-written, slightly more verbal than I expected, four year-old who contributes very well to the plot of the story. Marcus is a very interesting character as he went from a rather stern, unsmiling, controlling patriarch to a man who wants to be happy and wants to find that happiness through a great relationship with Sarah. The best example of his changing is his dealings over a gambling debt that he wants to enforce until Sarah convinces him that doing so will ruin an entirely family. She is a great influence on him and I loved it.Unfortunately I felt that Marcus' "transformation" and the development of their relationship in general, was a little rushed and not really as fleshed out as I would have liked. There were some great scenes between the two of them as they are falling in love, such as the late night tea and the walk in the garden, and they were some of my very favorite parts of the book and I really wanted more of them.
The side plot involving David and the counterfeit money was a great addition to the story and I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what would happen. It was briefly mentioned throughout the book so it was not completely out of left field, but it did not overwhelm or detract from the romance or lead to lots and lots of issues and angsty discussions. The sex was great and very steamy but it was admittedly crammed in to less than 20 pages of the book. It was offset somewhat by how great the build up was as these two had quite a few passion filled glances and quite a lot of thinking about how great it would be between them. I also liked how they handled David's role in this relationship, with no one obsessing about how she "chose" David first, as everyone understood that she really only fell back on David because she felt she had no other options. The relationship between David and Marcus is also a really intriguing part of this book as Marcus learns that he can't control his younger brother and he needs to let David suffer through the consequences of his own actions and not constantly bail him out.
Rating: Another book I absolutely loved. I really would have liked more relationship development between Marcus and Sarah but overall a great book. Probably 4 1/2 hearts really.