When Major Bartholomew Blackpool learns the girl-next-door from his childhood will be forced into an unwanted marriage, he returns home to play her pretend beau. He figures now that he’s missing a leg, a faux fiancée is the best an ex-soldier can get. He admires her pluck, but the lady deserves a whole man—and he’ll ensure she gets one.
Miss Daphne Vaughan hates that crying off will destroy Major Blackpool’s chances of finding a real bride. She plots to make him jilt her first. Who cares if it ruins her? She never wanted a husband anyway. But the major is equally determined that she breaks the engagement. With both of them on their worst behavior, neither expects their fake betrothal to lead to love…
From Netgalley in exchange for a review. I have read several stories in the Dukes of War series before, so when this book came up, it seemed rude to turn it down!
I have to admit I was less convinced with this one in terms of the plot device to get them together. Bartholemew (Tolly) and Daphne have known each other from childhood but haven’t seen each other since Tolly returned from war missing both a leg and his identical twin brother. Daphne is being threatened with the mad house if she doesn’t get married by her next birthday and so ropes Tolly into the scheme. She doesn’t want to get married because she feels it’ll prevent her from investing in all her schemes to improve the lots of the lower classes.
In terms of the characters of Tolly and Daphne, these are better and both are strongly developed – Tolly is still not mentally ready for dealing with being in a society where being a soldier without a leg makes you not a man at all (at least in his head). Daphne is investing her time in trying to make a difference because no matter what she’s done or who she has loved before, she hasn’t made a mark in the world.
Both damaged people need to realise that they need each other to become whole and that asking for help is not a bad thing sometimes.
Most of the secondary characters are sketched in, primarily because they have their own books in the series see my reviews of The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower, The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress and The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation by the same author