What A Lady Requires by Ashlyn Macnamara
Overview by Amazon.com:
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.
This is the final book in a trilogy by Ashlyn Macnamara. I have been fortunate to have read all the books in this series, so it was great to see the return of other couples. Once again, Ashlyn Macnamara has created a swoon worthy story that weaves together unconventional characters and a plot that has you guessing as to what will happen.
The story starts with the engagement of Emma and Rowan. It’s a practical, money based arrangement – absolutely no love or lust involved. In fact the two have never met before. This is where Macnamara’s books are interesting to read – she turns the tables on the conventional story line.
Rowan is a flat broke younger son who is down to his last pounds. Emma is the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant who has excellent financial acumen and financial skills. The purpose of their match is to keep Rowan solvent by Emma’s skilled tutelage. Normally it is the male who controls the finances, he is in charge and excels at being not just responsible, but has a Midas touch. I wondered how I would accept the change of convention in this book. Would it make Rowan seem less manly? Would I dislike a man who lacks the responsibility to keep his coffers full and family safe? Would Emma’s role as disciplinarian over the funds and teacher to Rowan make her seem like a harpy?
In a word, no. Rowan is skillfully developed as a character. While he may lack for business sense, he makes up for it in many other areas. He is a big, broad, blond male. He sets hearts a flutter when he walks into a room. Where Emma lacks skill and comfort, he shines. His charge from the marriage is to elevate Emma to the nobility and to pave the way for her family, while erasing the stench of trade.
Rowan is a more complex character than first meets the eye. While definitely a man about town, he has dark demons that he is still running from years later. Those demons haunt the very house he now resides in with his bride. They seem to chase him when he enters the house and swirl around him as he tries to move into the future. He mocks the attempts Emma undertakes to solve their finances and while on the surface he appears like an ass, as the reader you know where the blood money has gone. You want him to open up and share his past with Emma so they can move forward.
I think what saves Rowan from being a loser is his prowess. Not just in the bedroom, but the swagger in his step. His confidence is powerful and like an aphrodisiac. When he advances upon Emma intent on consummating their marriage, it’s like he is about to consume her. The sex scenes are really passionate and Rowan is a very skilled lover. The fact that he is so into Emma is a real turn on. He proves in the bedroom that he isn’t a wastrel.
Emma seems so single minded at the beginning of the novel – finances first. But as we get to know her, you learn about her struggles to fit into the ton. Her feelings of inadequacies and her practicalities. She enjoys working on the books – something that Rowan can’t fathom. He challenges her to laugh, to enjoy the fun things in life and to loosen up. He is a good influence on Emma, aside from the finances. What really helps build the relationship between the two is the fact that Emma wants Rowan as much as he wants her. She is learning her new role and he proves himself to be her ally and partner. I think that is what I liked so much about these two. They balanced each other – her failings were his strengths and vice versa.
The author takes an unconventional spin on what could be a typical ton arrangement and makes it into a fun adventure. There are serious moments to this story, but they are matched by spicy love scenes and a golden husband who works hard to loosen up his serious bride. Overall, a fun story to read that had me guessing what would happen next – and really hoping it was a trip to the bedroom!
Get it here!