This is the first book in the series An American Heiress in London, featuring wealthy young ladies from America looking for titled husbands in London. I was hoping to enjoy this book, as my recent historical romance reads have been rather disappointing – unfortunately, right from the start of it I didn’t like it much. It begins with Lady Belinda Featherstone, premier matchmaker, lecturing another young lady about what to look for in marriage. Due to her own disastrous match, Belinda is on a mission to warn girls away from men who are too rakish, too charming, and too impoverished. She had been taken in by such a man, only to have her heart broken when he spent all of her sizeable dowry, and died in bed with his mistress, leaving her nearly destitute.
Enter Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge – exactly the sort of man Belinda detests. He has had his money flow cut off by his dastardly father, the Duke of Lansdowne and been given the edict to marry a suitable wife in order to have his funds reinstated. He comes to Belinda for her assistance, knowing that she has helped others in similar situations. Of course, she wants nothing to do with him, believing he is just as bad (if not worse) than her late husband. They trade barbs, she outs his financial situation to the gossip papers, and he declares war with her. Naturally, he also finds her extremely beddable, lusting after her from the moment he sets eyes on her.
And so it goes. After he shows interest in one of the young ladies she is helping (a rather silly girl who is too naïve and young for him), Belinda reluctantly agrees to take him on as a client. They are thrown together more often, and the lusting on both sides starts to ramp up. Nicholas is quite open about his feelings for her, and he keeps imagining her naked on all sorts of occasions (across the tea table, sitting in the train compartment etc). He takes delight in ignoring her boundaries, which bothered me more than such behavior in romance usually does. Maybe it’s all the focus these days on sexual harassment that I found it creepy rather than hot. He makes her feel uncomfortable several times, and even though she eventually falls for him, it didn’t work for me.
Overall, on top of the creepy factor, I was bored by their back and forth and there wasn’t much else going on in the book to hold my interest. I skimmed towards the end to finish it and have no desire to try another book by this author. There are several gushing reviews in Goodreads for this book that I don’t understand; I felt like I was reading something entirely different than those that gave it five stars.