In USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie's charming Spinster House series, love is always a welcome guest…
Two possible futures loom before Miss Anne Davenport. The first option: sharing an unhappy home with her father and soon-to-be stepmother. The second: a life of independence at the Spinster Houseif only her friend, Cat, would vacate the premises and marry the Duke of Hart. A well-placed whisper about the pair's secret tryst might speed the course of true love. But the duke's stubborn cousin poses an obstacle. A ridiculously handsome, very persuasive obstacle…
Nate, Marquess of Haywood, has spent his life looking out for the duke, hoping to stave off a family curse. The only way to keep his cousin alive is to keep him single. That means convincing the intriguing Miss Davenport that her lovely lips could be put to far better use than gossiping. Kissing, for instance. In fact, Nate is beginning to hope that Miss Davenport's destiny lies not in the Spinster House at all, but with him …
Sally MacKenzie's novels are…
"Naked, noble, and irresistible!" Eloisa James
"Perfect." RT Book Reviews
"Great fun." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
A native of Washington, DC, Sally MacKenzie still lives in suburban Maryland with her transplanted upstate New Yorker husband. She's written federal regulations, school newsletters, auction programs, class plays, and swim league guidance, but it wasn't until the first of her four sons headed off to college that she tried her hand at romance. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at P.O. Box 10466, Rockville, MD, 20849. Please visit her home in cyberspace at www.sallymackenzie.net.
Read an Excerpt
How to Manage a Marquess
By Sally MacKenzie
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Sally MacKenzie
All rights reserved.
Loves Bridge, May 1817
Nathaniel, Marquess of Haywood, strode across the road from Cupid's Inn, arguing with himself.
Slow down. You don't want to attract attention. You can't burst into the vicarage in a panic. Think how angry Marcus would be.
He stopped and took a deep breath. This was Loves Bridge, not London, and Miss Hutting, the woman he feared wished to trap his cousin into marriage, was a vicar's daughter, not a conniving Society chit.
And Marcus had told him she wanted to be the next Spinster House spinster, not the next Duchess of Hart.
But she spent hours alone with Marcus the other day, including some time in the Spinster House. Think what could have happened there!
Nate clenched his teeth and started walking again.
He should have been more suspicious when Marcus accepted this dinner invitation. A sane man wouldn't voluntarily sit down to a meal with a vicar, his wife, and their countless children.
He'd let his guard down, that was it. Loves Bridge was the curse's birthplace, so he'd thought the villagers would realize the Duke of Hart had to avoid marriage at all costs. Once the duke said his vows and bedded his wife, the poor man started counting the months left him on this earth. For two hundred years, no Duke of Hart had lived to see his heir born.
I am not going to let that happen to Marcus. I have to remain alert, especially now that Marcus is thirty.
Just look what had happened when he'd let his attention wander in London a few days ago: Marcus had ended up in the bushes with that Rathbone hussy, her dress falling down for all to see.
Hell, Lady Dunlee, London's leading gossip, had seen.
Marcus wouldn't end up in the bushes at the vicarage, of course, but that didn't mean —
"Good evening, Lord Haywood."
"Ah!" Nate took several quick steps back. Oh, Lord, talk about not remaining alert.
Two old ladies with white hair and bright, prying eyes blinked up at him. They must be the Boltwood sisters, the leading gossips of this little village. What wretched luck.
He forced his lips into a smile and bowed slightly. "Good evening, ladies."
"Looking for some company, my lord?" The shorter of the two batted her eyelashes at him.
Nate repressed a shudder. "No. My thoughts are company enough, madam."
The other old woman clicked her tongue. "A handsome young lord like you alone with your thoughts? That will never do."
Her sister nodded and then waggled her thin white eyebrows suggestively. "We happened to see Miss Davenport loitering around the Spinster House."
"She was looking quite lonely."
A very inappropriate part of him stirred.
Miss Davenport had arrived at the inn the other day just as he and his friend Alex, the Earl of Evans, were coming to have a pint and wait for Marcus to finish posting the Spinster House vacancy notices — accompanied by Miss Hutting. Later, Marcus had told them Miss Davenport was also hoping to become the next Spinster House spinster.
Unbelievable! She should have men lining up to beg for her hand in marriage. That day at the inn, the sun had touched her smooth honey-blond hair, making it glow. He'd gazed down into her blue eyes as he'd opened the door for her and felt himself being pulled deeper and deeper....
He frowned. He'd seen dark currents swirling below her polite expression and had a sudden, bizarre urge to ask what was troubling her. Thank God Alex had spoken then. She'd looked away, and the odd connection he'd felt with her had broken.
And it would stay broken. He was not in the market for a wife. Of course not. Not only did he have to guard Marcus for as long as he could, he was only thirty, too — far too young to consider marriage.
Oh, blast. Now the Misses Boltwood were snickering and nudging each other.
He sniffed in his haughtiest manner and looked down his nose at them. "I am quite certain Miss Davenport would not welcome my intrusion into her solitude, ladies."
Though the thought of Miss Davenport a spinster —
No. The woman's matrimonial plans — or lack thereof — were none of his concern.
"That Spinster House!" The shorter of the Misses Boltwood curled her lip and snorted. "I can't imagine what Isabelle Dorring was thinking. Spinsterhood is an unnatural state."
The other Miss Boltwood nodded. "A woman needs a man to protect her and give her children."
Her sister elbowed her, waggling her eyebrows again. "And keep her warm at night."
Since both ladies looked to have reached their sixth or seventh decade without nabbing a husband themselves, their enthusiasm for the activities of the marriage bed was more than a little alarming.
"As you must know," Nate said, "Miss Dorring had good reason to distrust men. It's not surprising she would wish to offer other women a way to live comfortably without a husband."
The taller Miss Boltwood shrugged and flicked her fingers at him. "Bah. From all accounts, Isabelle knew what she was about. Her mistake was letting the duke into her bed before she'd got him to the altar."
"Though you must admit, Gertrude, that if that duke looked anything like this duke, poor Isabelle can be forgiven for getting her priorities confused." The shorter Miss Boltwood's lips curved in what could only be considered a lascivious fashion. "Have you seen the man's calves? His shoulders?"
These elderly ladies can't be lusting after Marcus.
The thought was too horrifying to contemplate.
"I'm not blind, am I, Cordelia? And what about his —"
"I'm afraid I must continue on my way, ladies." It might be rude to interrupt them, but it was necessary. Some things could never be unheard.
"Oh, yes, of course." Miss Gertrude winked. "Here we are, keeping you cooling your heels when you must be anxious to meet Miss Davenport."
"I am not meeting Miss Davenport."
No! Where the hell had that thought come from? There was nothing unfortunate about it. He had no time for nor interest in a marriageable woman.
"You aren't the duke, my lord," Miss Cordelia said. "You don't have to worry about the silly curse."
Miss Gertrude nodded. "And Miss Davenport is a comely armful in need of a husband."
Very comely ...
He must get these wayward thoughts under control. Miss Davenport might be the most beautiful woman in the world, but she was not for him.
"I doubt if Miss Davenport would agree she's in need of a husband." He bowed again. "If you will excuse me?"
He didn't wait for their permission. He wanted to get out of earshot as quickly as possible.
He wasn't quick enough.
"The marquess has an impressive set of shoulders, too, Gertrude."
"Yes, indeed. Miss Davenport is a very lucky woman."
He resisted the urge to turn and shout back at them that he had no interest in Miss Davenport.
Which would be a lie.
But he could have no interest in the woman. What he had — must have — was an immediate interest in Marcus's safety.
He strode —
No. Slow down. Don't be obvious. Marcus hates it when he knows I'm spying on him.
And he wasn't spying, precisely. He was merely keeping a watchful eye out.
He strolled toward the vicarage, which just happened to be directly across from the Spinster House. Was Miss Davenport still there? He didn't wish to encourage any gossip, but surely it wouldn't be remarkable to engage the woman in conversation if he encountered her. Actually, it would be an excellent thing to do. That way, he could watch for Marcus without being obvious about it.
Splendid. Miss Davenport was still there, dressed in a blue gown that he'd wager was the same shade as her eyes. A matching blue bonnet covered her lovely blond hair. She was slender, though not too slender, and just the right height. If he held her in his arms, her head would come up to his —
Bloody hell! I'm not holding the girl in my arms.
He jerked his eyes away from her — an action that was far harder than it should have been — to look toward the vicarage. What luck! Marcus was just leaving. Miss Hutting was with him, but in a moment the girl would —
He stopped and blinked to clear his vision. No, his eyes had not deceived him. Miss Hutting had just pulled Marcus into a concealing clump of bushes.
Hadn't Marcus learned anything from the disaster with Miss Rathbone?
It was the blasted curse. Marcus wouldn't do anything so cabbage-headed if he was in his right mind.
But what can I do to save him? I can't "accidently" barge into those bushes.
He glanced back at Miss Davenport. Oh hell, she was staring, too. If she told anyone what she saw —
His blood ran cold. If those gossipy Boltwood sisters got wind of this, Marcus would be hard-pressed to avoid parson's mousetrap, particularly as Miss Hutting's father was the parson.
Well, this was something he could attend to. He'd have a word with Miss Davenport. Surely he could persuade her to keep mum.
* * *
Baron Davenport's daughter, Miss Anne Davenport looked at the Spinster House. It wasn't a remarkable edifice. In fact, the place looked like all the other village houses — two stories, thatched roof, of average size. It was much smaller than Davenport Hall, the comfortable house she shared with her father.
And might all too soon share with a stepmother and stepbrothers.
Anne's fingers closed into two tight fists. How can Papa wish to marry a woman a year younger than I am?
She forced her fingers to uncurl. There was nothing mysterious about the situation. Mrs. Eaton was a widow with two young sons. She'd proved her procreative abilities — and Papa needed an heir.
And if — when — Papa married Mrs. Eaton, Anne would have to turn over all control of Davenport Hall to her, after almost a decade of making the household decisions herself. That thought had been so distressing, she'd considered marrying anything in pantaloons just to have a home of her own.
But then she'd thought what must happen when the pantaloons came off.
She shivered — and not with anticipation. Not that she knew precisely what happened in the marriage bed, but she had a general idea. And even if a woman's marital duties were no more demanding than shaking a man's hand, that would be too much. She'd yet to find a male she wished to spend five minutes with, let alone a lifetime.
She looked back at the Spinster House. It would be spacious for a woman living alone.
She'd not given the place much thought before. She'd been only six when Miss Franklin, the current — no, the former — spinster had moved in. Miss Franklin had been very young at the time. Everyone expected her to be the Spinster House spinster for forty or fifty or even sixty years, if she enjoyed good health. So when Papa had taken up with Mrs. Eaton, Anne hadn't thought the house might offer a solution to her problem.
But just days ago, to the surprise and shock of the entire village, Miss Franklin had run off with Mr. Wattles, the music teacher, who had turned out to be the son of the Duke of Benton and was now, with his father's passing, the duke himself. Even the Boltwood sisters hadn't sniffed out that story, and they were almost as accomplished at ferreting out secrets as Lady Dunlee, London's premier gabble grinder.
Which all meant the Spinster House spinster position was open again. The Almighty — or possibly Isabelle Dorring — had answered Anne's prayers.
But Jane and Cat want the house, too.
Jane Wilkinson and Catherine Hutting were her closest friends, Jane a little older than Anne, Cat a little younger. They'd grown up together, giggled together, shared confidences, cried on each other's shoulders. Cat and Jane had comforted her just the other day when she'd told them the sorry tale of Papa and Mrs. Eaton. She would do anything for them.
Except give up my chance at the Spinster House.
Speaking of Cat, was that her voice she heard? She glanced across the road, up the hill to the vicarage —
Her jaw dropped, and she blinked. No, she hadn't imagined the scene. Cat had just darted into the trysting bushes — and the Duke of Hart had gone in after her!
Her thoughts raced. What should she do? Run for the vicar? No, Cat might be ravished before she got back with him. Scream? That would only have people rush to help her.
I'll have to save Cat myself.
She took a step toward the vicarage — and stopped.
Wait a minute.
Cat led the duke into the bushes, not the other way round. In fact, the duke had hesitated, as if he wasn't entirely certain joining Cat in the foliage was a good idea.
Perhaps he was the one who needed rescuing.
Anne stared at the shrubbery. It had been several minutes, and neither Cat nor the duke had emerged. There was no screaming. The branches weren't thrashing about. Clearly no one was struggling to get free.
Which could only mean they were doing something other than fighting in there.
Heavens! There was only one reason a couple went into the trysting bushes, and it wasn't to discuss the weather.
Excitement bubbled up in her. If Cat married the duke, there would be only two candidates for the Spinster House: herself and Jane.
But Cat didn't want to marry. She wanted to live on her own and write novels.
Or maybe she just didn't want to marry Mr. Barker, the stodgy farmer Cat's mother had been throwing at her head these last few years. The duke was nothing like Mr. Barker. He was handsome and wealthy. And he didn't have an annoying mother living with him. If Cat married the duke, she'd have time and room to write as many novels as she wanted. She could —
"Ack!" She jumped several inches above the walk. Dear God, the Marquess of Haywood is at my elbow.
Her heart gave an odd little jump as well. And why not? The man presented a very, er,pleasant picture. With the strong planes of his face, his straight nose and sculpted lips, he could be a Greek statue come to life. Any woman would find him attractive.
Not to mention his warm hazel eyes seemed to look straight into her soul. When he'd opened the door for her at the inn the other day, she'd had to clench her hands to keep from brushing back the lock of brown hair that fell over his brow.
He'd been so serious then, so unlike his friend, the Earl of Evans. Lord Evans had laughed and flirted, but when Lord Haywood had spoken — just a few polite words — odd tendrils of warmth had curled low in her belly. Even now, though his tone had been rather harsh, his voice sent excitement fluttering through her.
"I didn't see you approach, my lord." Anne mentally chided herself for how breathless she sounded.
At least the man hadn't noticed. Or perhaps he had and it annoyed him. His brows slanted down farther.
"You didn't see me because your attention was elsewhere."
He sounded disapproving. Well! She wasn't the one engaged in scandalous behavior.
"Indeed, it was. I was quite surprised — shocked, really — to see His Grace bringing his London tricks to Loves Bridge, exploring the vegetation with a marriageable female."
Lord Haywood's mouth flattened into a hard, thin line, his aristocratic nostrils flaring. "Miss Davenport, I —"
His frown moved from her to the large black, white, and orange cat who'd appeared at their feet. "What the —?" He pressed his lips together, clearly swallowing some less-than-polite comment. "Go along, cat."
The cat sat down and stared at him.
"That's Poppy," Anne said to fill the oddly strained silence. "She lives in the Spinster House."
The marquess transferred his glare from the cat to Anne and then back to Poppy.
"Now what's the matter with the animal?"
"What do you —? Oh." Poppy was behaving rather strangely. She'd arched her back, hair standing all on end, and was hissing. But it wasn't the behavior in the vicarage bushes that she was objecting to. It was something down the walk toward the inn.
"I think the Misses Boltwood are coming this way," Anne said.
Poppy must agree. She yowled and darted toward the Spinster House.
"Blo —" Lord Haywood caught himself again. "Blast. I just encountered them headed the other direction."
"Well, I suppose it might be another set of elderly ladies. They are still too far off for me to be certain. In a moment I'll be able to — what are you doing?"
The marquess had grabbed her hand and was tugging her in the direction Poppy had taken. She dug in her heels and tugged back.
Excerpted from How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzie. Copyright © 2016 Sally MacKenzie. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Got 14 pages in and was having trouble following the story line. Persevered and am still a little lost at page 65.
I don’t think I’ve ever been captivated by a premise as unique as this one: Sally MacKenzie has created the Spinster House series to provide eligible unmarried ladies with few options in this day and age with lodgings and funds, enough to secure their futures and see themselves in charge of their own destinies. The story is mainly that of Anne Davenport, with her father marrying a widow younger than herself, with two young children, and bound to put her out. She’s put her name in the Spinster House Lottery, staking her future options on a chance. Unfortunately her best friend, Cat is also intending to enter the lottery, although she does have an option in Marcus, Duke of Hart. Anne’s plan is to gossip, with best intentions, in order to push Marcus and Cat closer together – with her out of the running, Anne feels sure her chances are better. Only two people stand in Anne’s way: Nate and Jane. Jane is another in the running for the Spinster House lottery – a spiteful, mean and jealous woman who really becomes a thorn, although she has a connection to one of Nate’s friends – as impossible as liking her seems to be. Nate is the last obstacle – best friend to Marcus and diligently attempting to keep his promise to keep Marcus from marrying. Unfortunately his intentions are completely the opposite of Anne’s and he sets out elaborate plans to sway her from her intended course. From purpose-driven enemies fighting a palpable attraction, the two start to form a friendship, and begin to slowly come to terms with the possibility for more. A wonderful cast of characters fill out this story filed with struggles for happiness and choices not made from lack of opportunities but in hope of opening doors. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Sassy, sexy, flirty, tantalizing regency romp around. Spinster House or father with step mother? That was the question for Anne. Why can't I stop my father from marry and still get into the Spinster House? Entertaining and fun. There was something for everyone here. Anne works to make gossip so she can acquire the spot in Spinster House. Nate, Marquess of Haywood, does what he has to to keep those gossiping lips closed or at least occupied doing other things. There was fun around the corner watching the attraction unfold in various ways. Minus the almost impalement on a rather hard rock. A tipsy tussle. There are even some how did that happen moments. For those that read regency and enjoy them, you will find enjoyment in this one. I would be interested in finding out what happens and how it came about for the Duke of Hart and Catherine. Mayhap I will find out. **This ARC was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Anne’s father is on verge of remarrying and no longer feels welcome to stay in her father’s home. She hopes to have a chance at winning the Spinster House Lottery, however when her best friend ends up winning that prize. The only hope she is if her best friend Cat and the Duke of Hart, Marcus marry. However due to the curse, Nate has been sworn to protect Marcus and that means preventing Marcus from getting married. This is a fast paced read, I enjoyed the story and do recommend reading them in order. Overall it was an enjoyable read.
I really enjoyed this story! You've got two individuals that are determined not to marry, but once they meet each other, they can't get the other one off their mind! I really enjoyed the interactions between Anne and Nate. MacKenzie always does such a great job of writing the bantering between her characters that I am always laughing out loud. This was definitely a great addition to the Spinster House series! I can't wait to see what MacKenzie has in store for us next! Thanks go out to Kensington Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
I received an eARC, from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. This is book two in the Spinster House series by Sally MacKenzie. I have read the previous book but I feel you would be okay with making this a standalone book...but I will say Ms. Mackenzie writing is so good that I would hate for you to miss out on any of her books. There is a Spinster House that was set up by the previous owner to only have the house used for one Spinster until she married or died... then the house would go to another chosen Spinster and so forth. It is actually a type of curse that is set forth for the Hart Family. Miss Anne Davenport has her eye on that house. At this time her good friend Cat is staying in the house but Anne knows that her friend is having feeling for the overseer of the house..Duke of Hart. So Anne makes a plan to set in motion some light gossip that might hurry their love affair on so that she can move in. Nate, Marquess of Haywood is best friends with the Duke of Hart and tries to look after him and this so called curse that will kill the Duke of Hart if he marries. So when Nate starts to learn that Ann is trying to move Cat and the Duke of Hart relationship toward marriage he knows he must stop her.
Nathaniel, Marquess of Haywood has spent his life watching out for his cousin, the Duke, making sure he doesn’t succumb to the family curse. While trying to keep an eye on his, he keeps running into Miss Anne Davenport, a young woman desperate to become the next to reside in Spinster House. This was a really cute story. I liked seeing more of the characters from Loves Bridge.They were all well written. Overall very enjoyable. **I received a copy of this story from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
***ARC Provided by the Publisher and NetGalley*** ***Re-do of Review that never posted*** Corsets and curses...oddly, this covers it. :) This book was fun, pure and simple. The characters, the things that happen to them, the dialog. It was all fun. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. As others have said, you get a good idea of the book from the synopsis, and it stays true to that. What you get from this book is exactly what you want....a fun, feel good, romance. Anne and Nate are fun...and by now, the theme should be obvious. Read this one. You won't be sorry.
This is the second book in the series and I really liked how it went along with the first one, using the same time frame was a very interesting way to set things. That being said, I think you should read this as stand alone, but it might be slightly confusing. We meet and get to know more about Anne Davenport in the installment. She is one of the Spinster House hopefuls. She is hoping that the current resident of the Spinster house will marry the Duke of Hart and she is more than willing to start a rumor to push the two together, but the Duke's cousin Nate, the Marquess of Haywood, has other ideas. You see, there is a curse if you believe in those types of things. Nate certainly does, as does all the Hart family. No heir shall live to see his son born. And so far, it's proven true. A curse by a jilted woman set this in motion many generations ago. The house they call the Spinster House was hers. So Nate vows to his mother that he will protect the Duke of Hart "Marcus" and not let him marry. Anne wants nothing more than the Duke to marry Cat so she can have the Spinster house and not be living with her soon to be Step Mother, who is a year younger than her! This was a great addition to the first book! I love how the story ran along the same timeline and added little bits from the first book. I liked the writing and the difficult situation Anne was in, was well done. Nate was a mess, but fun to watch him realize what he needed! I absolutely recommend this book and the first one!! They were both wonderful! 4.5 stars! Heat rating of 3 out of 5! *I received a courtesy copy of this book from Netgalley!*
This is the third book in the Spinster series and it features Nate and Ann. The story runs concurrently previous book and while it can be read as a stand alone, it is best enjoyed as a part of a series. Ann is desperate to occupy the "Spinster" house because her father is about to propose to a widow that is a year younger than her. Nate is in the area, because he is keeping an eye his cousin the Duke. They are thrown into many hilarious situations in their unusual courtship. Be advised that spotlight is often stolen by the cat, Poppy. If you love a good, funny romance set in the regency period, Sally MacKenzie is your girl! I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Spinster House was established for women who don't want to marry, for whatever reason. It provides a home and funds for the woman living there; especially important in the 1800s! But there can only be one occupant at a time. The last occupant left to marry. Now, there are three women vying for the position. There's a curse involved and men! How resolute are the young women to remain spinsters...? Refreshingly fun story, actually more than one! The appealing characters make for a lively read! Book free thru Netgalley.
A delightful, fun, historical romance that will keep the reader engaged through the last page. The authors idea behind the spinster house is wonderful with a mysterious cat adding some fun to the plot along with creating a bit of intrigue. Anne's character is handled with finesse keeping her feelings exposed for the reader so you feel her experiences internally as you read. Her interaction with the two small boys will warm your heart and rounds out the storyline creating a fulfilling read. Nate is a dedicated cousin spending his whole life keeping his cousin, the duke, safe from a family curse. His reactions to everything regarding Anne caused me to laugh several times and I looked forward to seeing if he could get out of his own way to allow himself to have a happy fulfilling life. This book has several relationships going on at the same time so the reader will have a lively time keeping up with who's doing what. I give this 4 STARS...for being a fun romantic read. An ARC copy was gifted in exchange for an honest opinion via Netgalley.
This is a great book; this is the second book in the Spinster House series by Sally MacKenzie. Anne Davenport has two possible futures, the first is sharing an unhappy home with her dad and soon to be stepmother. The second is a life of independence at the Spinster House. The problem is her friend Cat, needs to vacate the premises and marry the Duke of Hart. She decides to a well-placed whisper about the pair will help speed up the romance. Nate, Marquess of Haywood has spent his life looking out for the duke, to stave off a family curse. The only way to keep his cousin alive is to keep him single. This book has a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. This was such a great read and full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
How to Manage a Marguess by Sally MacKenzie is one that I have been waiting for. It is the second installment in the Spinster House series. I found these books to be quirky fun reads with characters you can't help but like. I can't wait to find out what happens in the next chapter of the Spinster House series. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have been waiting for this book since I finished the first in the series. The stories are entwined but do stand on their own. Anne needs to get out of her father's home as he is hoping to remarry. She is waiting along with two friends to see who gets to move into Spinster House. Anne has no intention of ever allowing a man to tell her how she should live her life, and spinsterhood is the best solution. Her plans get derailed as she spends time with Lord Haywood. Nate is focused on protecting his friend Marcus from a curse that it is too late before he realizes that he is actually lonely. The two bond over two young boys who are to become Anne's stepbrothers. Seeing friends and family find a love that binds pushing them to acknowledge their own feelings. I definitely recommend this story as well as the series.
Haywood Castle - 1808 Nate, the Marquess of Haywood, is sitting by his mother’s bedside as he sadly watches her die. She is begging him to keep his cousin, Marcus, the Duke of Hart, safe. As the heir, Marcus may be another victim of the family curse that says that a Duke of Hart must marry for love by the time he is 30 or he will die. In promising his mother that he will watch over Marcus, he realizes that he will be unable to wed until Marcus is safely wed. Loves Bridge - Nine Years Later - 1817 Nate has learned that Miss Catherine Hutting, a vicar’s daughter, wants to be the next Spinster House spinster. However, he fears she truly wants to marry Marcus and become the next Duchess of Hart. He’s worried too because Marcus is now 30. Miss Anne Davenport also wants to be the next Spinster House spinster. A lovely young woman, Nate cannot help but be attracted to her. But Nate knows that he cannot become involved with any woman because he must keep Marcus safe as he had promised his mother. Anne wants the Spinster House because her widowed father plans to marry a woman even younger than Anne. She is a widow with two young sons. Anne fears that if she continues to live at Davenport Hall, she will not be welcome to stay and/or may simply become a governess to the children. She also has no wish to marry, has never met a man she cares for, and is quite innocent about marriage as well. Three women vie to become the next spinster. To select the winner, they draw lots. When Anne loses, she is devastated. However, she soon gets to know Nate and an attraction between them grows. But Nate cannot wed until Marcus does and Anne needs to get away from Davenport Hall. What will happen for them? Is there a future for them to be together? This is the third book in the Spinster House series that I have read. While I like the author, I found this book to merge with “What To Do With a Duke” so it was a bit confusing. Quite frankly, I think it’s also time to end this particular series as it’s becoming a bit stale. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Although this book wasn't as entertaining as the first book of this series, I still enjoyed it. My one objection about the story: the hero's inner dialogue re his cock. I hope that if the author ever decides to revise this book she will take out most of the references that the hero makes to his "cock" as they were often a distraction and not humorous. I didn't think the thoughts "fit" the character at least the way they were written.