Thursday, April 2, 2015


What a Lady Requires by Ashlyn Macnamara

Publisher: Loveswept (3/31/2015)
Series: The Eton Boys Trilogy, book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Tasty Book Tours
Purchase links || amazon | bn | itunes | kobo || add to goodreads

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries, Ashlyn Macnamara’s blazing hot novel tells the story of mismatched newlyweds who discover a simmering connection.

Unlike every other proper young lady, Miss Emma Jennings views marrying well as little more than a means to an end. Such a merger would provide her industrious father with social credibility, and Emma with a chunk of her vast inheritance. Emma’s practical views are shattered, however, when her father ties her to the fabulously handsome ne’er-do-well Rowan Battencliffe, a man she loathes on sight—from the smile that promises all manner of wickedness to the way he ogles her with those striking blue eyes.

Deep in debt, especially to his wine merchant, Rowan figures the sooner he gets his finances in order, the sooner he can go back to doing what he does best: burning through ridiculous sums of cash. Which is why Rowan agrees to marry the merchant’s daughter, a prim and proper woman with delightful curves and an ample dowry. But Emma seems to think it’s her business to reform him! Their marriage is a tinderbox—and it’s just too tempting to resist playing with fire.

Ashlyn lives in the wilds of suburbia outside Montreal with her husband and two teenaged daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research.

{ excerpt } .
Mayfair, early 1822

Not for the first time since her aunt and cousin came to stay, Miss Emma Jennings wished she’d been born male. A man wouldn’t have to endure constant twittering over the rules a proper lady should uphold. A man wouldn’t have to tolerate constant reminders to fold his hands just so and to put on a bonnet for goodness’ sake. A man would be permitted to pursue whatever interests he liked.

“My dear, what has got you so caught up that you cannot even heed our conversation?”  From across the sitting room, Aunt Augusta asked the question in a sticky tone that might indicate concern to the unsuspecting.

Emma knew better. That tone meant nothing less than suspicion. She adjusted her spectacles. “I am merely writing a letter.”

Surely Aunt Augusta wouldn’t protest such a mundane activity, but the older woman pressed her lips together all the same. The tiny lines about her mouth deepened into furrows. It was as if she knew Emma’s letter was addressed to the owner of a vineyard in Burgundy and discussed the most recent vintages available for import at an advantageous price. More, it was as if her aunt could see through the sheets of vellum to the ledger hidden beneath. To Emma, either one was far more interesting than contemplating which members of the ton might attend the Pendleton ball tomorrow evening. She far preferred to speculate on wine futures, even if that speculation was intended to benefit another.

Her cousin Uriana stabbed her needle into her embroidery, drawing a length of peacock blue floss through the stretched linen. “I still cannot decide which gown I ought to wear. Do you think Mr. Crawley will be more impressed by the pink or the sea-foam green?”

Since Mr. Crawley had spent the last rout the family had attended in the card room with the inveterate gamblers, that question was entirely moot. Uriana might well wear an ostrich-feather headdress and nothing else before Mr. Crawley deigned to notice her, but Emma could not voice that scandalous thought aloud. Aunt Augusta would certainly expire of the vapors in the face of such a breach of propriety.

The thud of the door knocker saved Emma from having to reply. Uriana straightened an already painfully rigid spine. “Good heavens. A caller. Do you think Mr. Crawley might actually be here?”

In spite of herself, Emma strained her ears toward the foyer. The rumble of the butler’s voice greeting the newcomer rolled down the passage, borne on a draft of wintry air. Aunt Augusta rose to her feet and padded to the doorway. Uriana folded her hands in her lap, placing them the requisite number of inches from her knees, and held her chin canted at the perfect angle. The eponymous headmistress of Miss Conklin’s School for Young Ladies had done her job well where Uriana was concerned. The rules had been drilled into her until she became their physical embodiment.

Just as well, since where Emma was concerned, Miss Conklin might well consider herself an abject failure. She might even be driven to over-imbibing ratafia at the very thought of her former pupil.

Aunt Augusta craned her neck toward the corridor. “Good heavens,” she said, echoing her daughter’s epithet. “I believe that’s an earl at the door.”

{ review } .
First off... I'm a big fan of book covers. Everything -- from the picture to the type... I just love them. They draw me in or turn me away. While the cover for WHAT A LADY REQUIRES is on the more plain side...

That back.

Oh me, oh my, I like that man's back...
One more not-necessarily-on-topic point. Often times while reading historicals, I can't help but feel how scandalous sex was. I mean, it was scandalous, but obviously these relations happened. We made it to 2015, did we not...
In WHAT A LADY REQUIRES, we have Emma and Rowan. Rowan owes Jennings money, and the way Jennings and Rowan's brother decide to fix that is by having Rowan marry Emma. Rowan's brother does not intend to marry, therefore his title will one day go to Rowan, and if not him, to his children, thus giving Emma the title her father wants. With the marriage comes money so that Rowan can pay off debts.
Rowan immediately comes across as a money wasting drunk, but as we get to know him, we learn that the drunken episode was an exception. That's not to say he is an overly great guy but he certainly isn't the drunkard who walked into the morning room to meet the ladies of the house.
Emma is unlike other ladies. She's given up on the idea she'll ever marry for love, or even that her eventual husband will grow to love her. She's plain, wears glasses, and is far too interested in money affairs -- all of which other ladies never fail to forget to point out to her (it broke my heart a little).
The thing is, Rowan grows to love these things about Emma. He feels like a failure next, but he certainly tries to impress Emma once they wed.
He was so good to Emma. You can feel on the pages how his love for her begins to grow. While he has sour memories of the townhouse they are to live in (hence the 'in his cups' episode when he first was called upon), he tries bartering with Emma to get her to change the house -- his bartering tool of choice? The pins that hold up her perfect hair.
I loved that he preferred Emma messy and unruly. (which, to be honest, is more like her; she's sassy and defiant toward society). He liked breaking her control and seriousness. 
She ducked her head, and he caught her chin in his fingers to raise her eyes to his. Damn. In the space of a light-hearted question, the atmosphere in the study had become heavy and smothering as a blanket. “Don’t do this.”
She averted her gaze, her cheeks reddening further. “Don’t hide your enjoyment. Not from me. Never forget, I know exactly how you look when passion overtakes you. You are beautiful in those moments. It's like your laugh. Don't be afraid to let it out. Let me see it. It is all beautiful. 

However, as evidence of the time frame this book is in, they don't talk about things. They both harbor a decent secret from the other, and when bits and pieces start to fall, each doubts the other... Granted, Emma was a bit more forgiving in Rowan's sins, but we'll chalk Rowan's lack of forgiveness to his being male. But also with this, Emma doesn't see Rowan's growing feelings, and it hurts her when she 'realizes' that he doesn't truly want her, when her own feelings are growing.
I just loved Rowan and his desire to help Emma unwind -- it was more than the pins, but the quick smiles and terrible puns. He never let her put herself down and always was sure to push her back up when she belittled herself. It was rather endearing.
I'm awfully picky with my historicals, but this one certainly did it for me!

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