Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92565-6
Historical Romance, 2017
Convenient Proposal to the Lady is part of the series with a cringe-inducing name, Hedley’s Hellions, but it can stand alone very well, as the story and the romance are both self-contained, with minimal intrusions of characters from previous books unless necessary. This one is Benedict Tawny’s story. He’s the reform-calling guy who has some baggage from being the illegitimate son of a viscount – his marriage to heroine Lady Alyssa Lambornne, therefore, eats at him because of the disparity between their stations in society.
Their paths meet – officially (they have heard of and seen one another before, of course) – when Ben discovers that several so-called gentlemen of the Ton have made a bet as to who can ruin Alyssa. He warns her, of course. Alyssa decides that she can’t let those men get away with that wager, and decides that she will turn the tables on them by pretending to play along, much to Ben’s dismay. He has the right to be concerned – she is no match of those men, and he has to come to her rescue. As a result, the two of them are found in a compromising situation, and you surely cannot guess what happens next.
This one starts out pretty interestingly. An illegitimate hero who actually feels the brunt of his circumstances of birth (no “I’m so rich and awesome, my bastard status only makes me more popular among the ladies!” cop-out here), a heroine who is actually… well, Alyssa is actually a refreshing heroine at first. Her father is a control freak, so her mother wants Alyssa to marry so that our heroine can finally be free of that man. Alyssa knows what her mother is doing, even if she doesn’t always agree with her mother’s methods, so this is one rare story where the heroine and her bent-on-matchmaking mother are actually on good terms with one another. Our heroine has also been in love before, and she certainly has no problems admitting to herself that the hero’s good looks makes her feel a little randy inside. Okay, not that little. Of course, just because she likes what she sees doesn’t mean that she will then throw herself on the hero for a one special night of sex, like some heroines in other stories would do.
Even her efforts to turn the tables make sense in some way, as she is looking for an outlet to release all her pent-up frustrations stemming from men controlling every aspect of her life without taking into consideration her wants and feelings.
Unfortunately, once these two get compromised, the story morphs into another tired-ass tale of two people making things super awkward just because they both want to be the more noble of the two. You probably know the song and dance by now. He likes her a lot, but takes forever to realize that he loves her; she can’t simply make him stay married to her because she doesn’t want him to see her as a duty and that she cares for him to want him to be free to love someone who surely can’t be her, blah blah blah. The man who tries to ruin Alyssa is clearly a scumbag, but they are too nice not to just sic him and bury his body in an unmarked grave somewhere, so – surprise – he shows up late in the story when drama needs to happen, to cause trouble for Alyssa. The two interesting characters become boring because they both behave in exactly the way you’d imagine them to, and the story is also very predictable.
As a result, Convenient Proposal to the Lady turns into an unmemorable kind of “been there, read that” story. Shame, really, as it starts out pretty different from most stories of its kind, and I had high hopes… hopes that eventually flatlined as the story turns out to be just another one of those things.