This book is light hearted and frothy as a Regency can be in K.J. Charles’ hands. She has stated that she wrote this to take a break from writing a different one and threw in a lot of the usual tropes. And it was a lot of fun!
Robin and Marianne Loxleigh of Nottinghamshire (hmmm…Locksley?) have arrived in London to find suitable marriage partners. Short on cash, they aren’t much different than the women seeking to marry a lord, they are just more honest about it. While they are really nobodies in the eyes of society, they manage to look the part and know how to play the game to ingratiate themselves very easily. It isn’t long before Marianne catches the eye of a Marquess (rather villainous but rich), while Robin has set his sights on Alice, a young lady with a large inheritance in her future. Alice is sweet and smart, so naturally her marriage prospects weren’t great – anyway, she’d rather study mathematics in Germany than anything else. If she marries Robin, that would become a possibility.
Unfortunately for Robin, Alice’s uncle is immediately suspicious of Robin’s motives. And while the uncle, Sir John Hartlebury, is not conventionally handsome, Robin finds himself quite attracted by certain parts of Hart’s anatomy. “How absolutely typical that the best pair of thighs he’d seen in years should be parcelled up with such a damned inflexible, unaccommodating, sceptical personality.”
From there, things take a different turn as Robin loses a substantial amount of money to Hart in a card game. Without ready cash, Robin comes up with a plan to “work off” the debt in a way that will be pleasurable for both parties. There are a lot of hot, steamy sessions between the two men and along the way their relationship grows into something more personal. There’s misunderstandings as well, but as a nice change the characters actually discuss things and resolve issues! So many romance novels prolong the angst just for the sake of it.
Overall this was a joy to read, and as usual Ms Charles infuses some observations of class and the need for survival into the fluffy mix. The ending was as you hope and expect, but there’s a scene in a crowded ballroom that makes you go “YES!” and want to hug Robin for what he’s done. He’s truly the lover a person wants on their side.