How to Best a Marquess
Author: Janna MacGregor
What I’m Talking About:
Note: I read the ebook version until Mid-CHAPTER 13, 41%. At this point, I finished the story via audiobook.
Eight years ago, Beth Howell enjoyed the best night of her life when Julian Raleah, Marquess of Grayson, asked for her hand in marriage. However the next day, Beth’s brother turned down Julian’s offer, and Julian left town without saying goodbye. Years later, Beth is shunned by the ton because her now deceased husband Meri was already married to two others when he illegally wed her and made off with her dowry. Beth vows never to be tied to a man, including her brother, again and searches for her missing dowry with Julian’s help.
How to Best a Marquess shares the story of Meri’s third wife, Beth. Even though her new best friends (Meri’s first two wives) have found happiness with wonderful men, Beth insists that she’ll never lose her freedom by marrying again. Yet she remains completely attracted to and enamored with Julian, even after all these years. I love that she wants a tryst, but he refuses, knowing how they run in the same friend group and once they break it off, it would be hard to be around one another. It’s obvious that the pair is a perfect match, but her stubbornness keeps Julian at arm’s length. Her adamant opposition to marriage did wear on me after a while. She sees how happy her two best friends are, and they’ve not lost themselves. Her constant opposition rang hollow after a while.
Unfortunately, the execution of their romance comes at the expense of a convoluted search for her missing dowry. What I don’t understand from the start is, why does she think Mari didn’t just spend it or gamble it away? The journey was anything but smooth, and I found myself confused more that once.
Additionally, there are ridiculous moments in the story that just didn’t sit well with me. For example, Julian and Beth are held at gun point by a highwayman. Beth argues about her desire to remain unmarried with the thief. While, this scene is useful in allowing both Beth and Julian to examine their feelings while seeing the other in mortal peril, it was rather silly and went on too long. Even the epilogue had a completely unnecessary and bizarre twist that felt out of place.
Narration: The story is shared via the alternating third person POVs of Beth and Julian. Ms. Landor’s British-accented narrator has a fairly deep, somewhat “gender neutral” voice, using it for both POVs. She alters her voice for dialogue: Julian’s voice is slightly deeper than narrator, while Beth is higher-pitched. Ms. Landor varies all characters based on gender, class, and age. She successfully adds emotion by altering her volume and tone. I enjoyed her performance.
In the end, I loved the idea of the Widow Rules trilogy and overall enjoyed the stories. While I felt Beth and Julian’s story was the weakest of the three, I liked that it wrapped up the overall story arc and everyone has their HEA.
About the Book:
Beth Howell needs to find her dowry, post haste. After her good-for-nothing first husband married her―and two other women, unbeknownst to them all―she’s left financially ruined and relegated to living with her brother, who cares more for his horses than he does his blood relatives. If Beth fails to acquire her funds, her brother will force her to marry someone fifty years her senior and missing half his teeth. She’d prefer to avoid that dreadful fate. But her now-deceased husband, Meri, absconded with her money mere days after their illegitimate marriage. To find it, Beth will have to leave town and retrace Meri’s steps if she’s to take her future into her own hands.
Julian Raleah, Marquess of Grayson, cares not a whit for social norms and generally growls at anyone in his path. Grayson has had a heart of stone ever since his engagement to Beth Howell went down in flames―long before she married that cad, Meri, and sealed her own fate for good. But now she’s on his doorstep, asking for use of his carriage and accompaniment on the hunt to find her lost dowry. Surely Grayson cannot go on the road with the woman who has occupied his thoughts for the past decade. Yet, knowing she needs him, how can he resist helping her this one last time? And maybe that’s just enough time to change the ending to their over-too-soon love story.
Author: Janna MacGregor
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Series: The Widow Rules #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Print Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Audiobook Publisher:Recorded Books
Format(s): paperback (384 pages), e-book, audiobook
Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
Book Source: Publisher
Amazon (affiliate link)
Reviews in the Series:
A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor (The Widow Rules #1)
Rules for Engaging the Earl by Janna MacGregor (The Widow Rules #2)