“We’re going to get us some brides!” So declares Taran Ferguson the (drunken) laird of the Ferguson Clan on a winter’s night in Scotland, 1819. Only, perhaps he shouldn’t have meant it quite so literally, as he returns to his castle, in the midst of a snowstorm, bearing a carriage full of 4 young ladies (and 1 unexpected Duke), for his nephews to choose a bride from. The nephews – Byron, Earl of Easton, and Robin, Comte de Rocheforte and heir to Taran’s lands – while surprised, are left to deal with the ladies at least until the weather clears and makes travel possible again.
Trapped at a drafty castle with three noble men and a daft laird, the kidnapped potential brides must make do. Of the four, Lady Cecily Tarleton is perhaps the best catch – being both beautiful and wealthy, but it’s marks against her for being English. There’s the two Chisholm sisters, Fiona & Marilla, one a studious lass who’s given up all hopes of marrying due to a rather large (and unearned) blot on her reputation, the other a beautiful flirt who has the role of spoiled rich girl all to herself. And lastly, Miss Catriona Burns, who was taken quite accidentally, on account of her dress color. Even she knows, as the daughter of a squire, that she’s more than a little bit out of place in present company.
But watching present company – a Duke, an Earl, a Comte, a Laird, and four gentle-ladies of the Ton – muddle their way through the most awkward set ups since any blind date ever is – in the most competent hands of Julia Quinn, Eloise James & Connie Brockway – quite enjoyable. The Lady Most Willing is witty, all of the authors manage to blend their parts well, and all of the stories are well told (of course I have a favorite, but it’s more important that there wasn’t one that I hated, which often happens in these compilation-type books). A follow-up (but not a sequel) to their previous collaboration The Lady Most Likely, The Lady Most Willing has all of your ‘trapped at a houseparty due to inclement weather‘ trope favorites – not enough rooms, enforced togetherness (and ensuing awkwardness), a little touch of cabin fever here and there – with added ‘kidnapped for no reason’ and ‘you’re going to marry because I say so!’ goodness thrown in for fun. And it works – it was fun, it was light, it was worth reading.