This latest in the Marriage Game series, where titled bachelors meet their matches, and then some, has all the complexity and humour of an Oscar Wilde novel. Meg Featherton has been disappointed by two suitors and as a consequence has determined to settle for safety and comfort, not the unsteadiness of love. Her sights are set on Charles, Viscount Throughgood. Unbeknownst to Meg, Charles otherwise known as "Chuffy", has his eyes set on her best friend Amanda.
The man who has been struck by Meg from the beginning, is Damon, Marquis of Hawksworth, handsome and pleasing to all but Meg. Hawksworth's boredom on return from the wars finds some release by leading the dandy set a merry race. Viewing his efforts, Meg dismisses him as a mere fribble. So we are launched on a tale thick with missed opportunities, misunderstandings, interferences, and mistimed happenings; all underpinned by the meddling of a trio of grande society dames. The plot has our lovers pushed down a twisted path towards true love, accompanied by healthy doses of humility. Meg and Damon are separately invited by Lady Bellamny, Damon's godmother, to her Christmas house party. Matchmaking efforts at their best are trotted out by Lady B. with help from Meg's grandmother. The fact that Meg becomes more befuddled about the situation and her feelings for Damon as time goes on just adds a delightful tension to the situation. I want to say, 'Get over it Meg, move forward!' But no she seems stuck in the role she's given herself. Can Hawksworth can help her move away from being a victim to taking charge of her own life and feelings, to be proactive? Meg has become too scared to trust her own judgement having been taken in so thoroughly before. The thing is we see that Meg and Damon are in tune in many ways, and not just with the singing together vignettes we are treated to. Meg indeed has a long way to go before she'll let love slip through her guard.
I can't even begin to express my ire with Damon's father, the Duke of Somerset. His plotting and perfidy is rampant. Damon's relationship with his father is a major element to the story, dictating Damon's many reactions.
Damon has seen the worst of the war. This has left him scarred. His discussion with Meg about the soldiers labelled the Forlorn Hope is fascinating. Their mention took me back to Richard Sharpe and Sharpe's War and his band of forlorn men. I am sure I heard the music as I read on. With this in mind, one is even more sure that Damon is a man of a different sort to those Meg is used to meeting. If only she could see it too.
Damon's determination to win his love, despite the conundrums that his courtship is strewn with, gives this Regency romance more than its fair share of enjoyable moments in the quest for true love.
A NetGalley ARC