Eloise Bridgerton has reached the age of 28 and while she has received six different marriage proposals, she was quite happy with the idea of ending up a spinster. That was, of course, when she believed her best friend, Penelope Featherington, was going to be there, spinstering alongside her. Then Penelope ends up marrying the man of her dreams, Eloise’s brother Colin, and suddenly spinsterhood isn’t looking quite so rosy. On impulse, Eloise decides to run off to the countryside to visit Sir Phillip Crane, the widower of her distant cousin. Having been corresponding in the years since her cousin’s death, Sir Phillip suddenly proposed in his most recent letter, and with the rest of her family distracted by Colin and Penelope’s recent union, Eloise decides that she wants to meet Sir Phillip in person, to see if they suit.
Sir Phillip’s never really loved his first wife, who was severely depressed (although that diagnosis would not have been available at the time). She was originally his brother’s fiancee, but after his older brother died during the Napoleonic wars, Sir Phillip inherited the title and ended up taking his intended bride as well. One sunny day, she attempted to drown herself in the nearby lake, rescued at the last minute by Phillip. Nonetheless, she died of a fever a few days later, and not entirely sure how to handle her passing, or what to do with his already lively twin children, Phillip made some bad choices and retreated into his greenhouses, taking care of his plants rather than deal with the harsh realities of widowhood.
Now, several years later, his twins are absolute monsters, running wild without any supervision and none of the local ladies are likely to want the job of being their mother. Having never seen Eloise, knowing only that she’s a spinster with a lot of time to write letters on her hands, he suggests that they might suit and is absolutely baffled when a lovely, auburn-haired woman turns up on his doorstep one afternoon, sans chaperone. Phillip, never the most suave and eloquent of men, has no idea what to do with the enchanting creature who claims to be Eloise Bridgerton. His children, on the other hand, suspect that she’s there to marry their father and use all their most nefarious tricks to try to drive her away for good.
Full review here.