When John Merrick, the Earl of Corbeau, is caught in a locked storeroom with Lady Grace, he has but one choice—marry her. He cannot bear to tarnish any woman’s reputation, least of all Lady Grace’s.
Lady Grace Landon will do anything to help her mother and sisters, crushed and impoverished by her father’s disgrace. But throwing herself into the arms of her dearest friend’s older brother to trap him in marriage? Never.
Corbeau needs to prove that he loves her, despite her father’s misdeeds. After years of being an object of scorn, not even falling in love with Corbeau alters Lady Grace’s determination to not bring her disrepute upon another. However, if they don’t realize that the greatest honor is love given freely without regard to society’s censure, they stand to lose far more than they ever imagined.
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To Win a Lady’s Heart (The Landon Sisters)
Eight years ago, John Merrick, Earl of Corbeau, approached his sister’s best friend, Lady Grace Landon, and asked permission to court her. Corbeau didn’t know that Grace’s world was about to fall apart, and that she and her family were on the brink of financial ruin. Grace knew this, and while it would have been easy to accept Corbeau’s suit and be financially secure, she chose the high road and turned him down. Since then, Grace’s father died, leaving the family all but social outcasts and dependent on the charity of friends and relatives.
While a guest at house party, Grace sneaks away to the pantry to avoid a silly game being played. Not knowing she is there, Corbeau, (also a guest) has the same idea, only he inadvertently locks the door behind him. There is awkwardness at first, but soon the two actually begin to converse congenially. Then they are discovered in this compromising situation, and Corbeau does the gentlemanly thing and announces that they are engaged.
Eight years have not cooled Corbeau’s ardor for Grace, and he’s more than willing to marry her, despite her family’s social ruin. Grace, however, has decided that she will never marry, and plans to convince Corbeau to break their engagement as soon as possible. While she and her family are guests at his home, she takes every opportunity to change his mind, while he is determined to change hers.
While Grace wasn’t in love with Corbeau eight years ago, she finds him attractive and intriguing now. Although she has no intention of marrying him, she finds herself wanting his kisses. Corbeau, however, is determined that he will be honorable, and there will not even be a kiss until they agree there will be a marriage. While Grace’s reasons for refusing Corbeau are noble, she doesn’t want to taint him or any children they would have, with ruin, it’s soon clear that he is more than willing to take that chance.
Corbeau is such a wonderful man, determined to do the right thing. He desperately wants Grace, yet he wants her to make that choice, he doesn’t want to force her. He’s also somewhat tongue-tied and awkward in social situations, which made him all the more endearing. As it becomes clear that his feelings are involved, and he really wants the marriage, Grace’s refusals and stubbornness become tedious. Soon Grace realizes that she desires Corbeau – will she be able to seduce him away from his “hands off” policy? Will Corbeau finally give up and free Grace from their engagement?
TO WIN A LADY’S HEART contains two of my favorite tropes – a forced marriage (although the “forced” part never really happened) and second chance at love. I adored Corbeau, but found it a bit harder to love Grace. I felt that her pride was more important to her than her happiness, and she was certainly aware that her refusal was genuinely hurting Corbeau, who cares deeply for her. Her change of heart was a long time coming. This book is a solid foundation for the Landon Sisters series, and I look forward to reading the upcoming stories from talented new author, Ingrid Hahn.