After a lifetime of rakish behavior, Lord Maxfeld must pretend he’s reformed and find a fake wife. And there is nobody more suitable than Lady Phoebe. Trouble is, Phoebe will not agree to a false engagement and leaves Max no option but to blackmail her into agreeing to his scheme.
Phoebe will go to great lengths to avoid anything remotely dishonourable and blackmails Max right back—directly to the altar. Once married, though, Phoebe wants more than just Max’s ring — she wants his heart, something he can never give….
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To Covet a Lady’s Heart
Lady Phoebe Landon and her family have only been given a lukewarm reception back into society after the scandal they suffered when Phoebe’s father gambled away their fortune. When Grace, Phoebe’s sister, married an earl, invitations slowly started to come again, but it’s a precarious situation. Phoebe knows that she has to avoid any hint of impropriety, so she intends to walk the straight and narrow path.
Max has his future planned, and it doesn’t include a wife or children. He loves and dearly wants custody of his orphaned nephew, Thomas, but his mother (Thomas’ grandmother) won’t relinquish him because of Max’ rakish reputation. So Max devises a plan to acquire a temporary fiancée – once his mother has become convinced he’s going to settle down, she’ll release Thomas to him, and then he can quietly end the engagement. Max also knows exactly who will pose as his fiancée – Phoebe Landon. Max knows that she needs to avoid scandal, and he knows a very damaging secret about her sister. When Phoebe refuses, Max resorts to blackmail, threatening to reveal the secret and causing further scandal to the Landon family. Phoebe has no choice but to agree.
Max and Phoebe were previously acquainted, but didn’t know each other very well. Now that they are engaged and spending time together, they grow to genuinely like each other. Phoebe begins to think she’d like this to be a real engagement, and though Max feels the same, he refuses to break his vow to himself never to wed or to be a father. He won’t tell Phoebe why, though it’s clear he would dearly love to have her for his wife. So Phoebe decides to do some blackmailing of her own.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading TO COVET A LADY’S HEART. It was pretty clear almost from the beginning that Max was not a bad person, and that his blackmail was done out of desperation and love for his nephew. The reason Max refuses to father children of his own is revealed fairly early on, though I would have liked to know much more about that whole situation than was revealed. Phoebe makes for a great heroine, with her strength, intelligence, compassion, and wittiness. This couple is clearly in love and deserves to have a happy ever after. They have genuine obstacles to overcome, and not all of them are resolved in this book, but I was left with the belief that their love is strong, and that together they will face whatever comes their way. I totally enjoy Ingrid Hahn’s writing – the story flowed smoothly and I love her dialogue. TO COVET A LADY’S HEART is a delightful read that receives my solid recommendation.