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MARRIAGE TO A NOBLEMAN? NOT IN HER WILDEST DREAMS. . .
The daughter of a disgraced woman and a common actor, Madelyn Swann has been shunned by the nobility. No proper lady would traipse about on a Covent Garden stage, let alone sell herself at auction to the highest bidder. So why in heaven’s name would Nathan Atwood, Viscount Rowley, make a generous offer for her hand?
Turns out Maddy is exactly the type of woman Nathan wants as his wife. Finally, he can embarrass his snobbish and cruel father, the Earl of Gilmore—and scandalize London society—with his beautiful, unsuitable bride. Then he’ll depart England forever and leave his wife behind. Having secret plans of her own, Maddy is happy to play the role … only to find that enjoying her husband’s seduction requires no acting whatsoever. But as she falls madly in love with Nathan, can she persuade him to stay with her for always?
The only reason Nathan Atwood, Viscount Rowley returns to England is because he believes his father is dead. Upon his arrival, however, he discovers his father very much alive and that his brother, the heir to the earldom, is dead of smallpox. Hating his father as much as he does, Nate, the new heir, will seek his revenge by marrying the most unsuitable woman he can find. And he finds that in the beautiful Madelyn Swann.
Tired of life as a stage actress, Maddy wants to forge a different kind of future for herself. How she decides to acquire the funds to facilitate this future is somewhat unconventional. Or maybe not so much when you consider low-born women’s options in nineteenth century England. She decides to auction herself to the highest bidder from a group of high-born gentlemen handpicked by her. Handpicked except for Nathan Atwood, whose godmother, Lady Milford, makes a special request to Maddy to allow him to participate.
Nathan offers more than just money, he offers marriage. Maddy accepts because she also plans to confront her maternal grandfather, the Duke of Houghton, who disowned her mother when she married Maddy’s father. Marriage to the heir of Earl Gilmore will give her entrée to the high society in which her grandfather resides.
Nathan is so filled with hate for his father, it’s hard for him to see anything else but exacting his revenge against the man who treated him so badly all his life. Who drove him away. I found him to be a cold, hard man in his interactions with everyone save his godmother and his younger sister, Emily, who survived the wave of smallpox that killed their brother. He does physically desire Maddy, but beyond that, he sees her only as means to an end. I was glad he didn’t immediately become emotionally enamored with her because that wouldn’t have been in keeping with his character. His feelings for her grew steadily over time. I liked watching his transformation as he warms to his nieces, his sister-in-law, and when he alters his plans of revenge to spare his sister because of her debut. I also loved that he gets more than he bargained for with his purchase of Maddy.
There’s a Cinderella/Wizard of Oz element to the story when Lady Milford gifts Maddy a pair of garnet slippers and because she’s also Nate’s godmother whom, in this case, acts as a matchmaker in bringing the two together. That was an unexpected and nice yet subtle touch to an already Pretty Woman type romance. And no, there is no pumpkin coach.
But if you’re expecting there to be a villain of the piece, you’ll find him in Lord Dunham, Maddy’s cousin. Lord Dunham was one of the men who bid for Maddy during the auction. Maddy can’t stand him and the only reason she reached out to him in the first place is to get information about their grandfather. He doesn’t know they’re cousins but even if he knew, I don’t think that would have made a difference to him in wanting to make her his mistress. I sincerely hoped he would get his comeuppance in the end. I’ll let you read it to find out what that is.
His Wicked Wish is a bit fairytale and a tinier bit suspense, but it’s mostly a romance about two people falling in love, confronting their demons and finding themselves. It’s a lovely story and one I’m happy to have read. I’m looking forward to more books in the series.