Lady Wilhelmina “Willow” Hunnicut has always dreamed of leaving tranquil Surrey for sights and sounds London. She is a talented designer and has aspirations as grand as London’s finest mansions. But an unmarried heiress dare not relocate to the capital city alone, and her parents have forbidden the move. A married woman, however, may come and go as she pleases, not a hint of scandal. With this in mind, Lady Willow writes an advertisement that offers her dowry to potential husbands as bait. She is determined to conveniently marry any man who will give her his name and then otherwise walk, ride, or sail away.
Lord Brent Caulder, the Earl of Cassin, lives in one of the last-remaining castles in Yorkshire, but it is a castle in decline. The tenants are listless and destitute, his mother and sisters are barely getting by. It’s Cassin’s fault, unfortunately, because he’s sealed the dangerous mines that have brought the earldom prosperity for generations. Now he must discover a safe alternative or his people will starve.
Relief comes in the form of an advertisement from a London investor. But when the “investor” is revealed to be a young woman and the money her dowry, Cassin must decide if he’s desperate enough to marry a stranger. The deal hinges on one stipulation: bride and groom will go their separate ways after the wedding and never look back.
When a family crisis forces the estranged couple to travel home to Yorkshire, Cassin seeks aid and solace from the new wife he barely knows. Lady Willow embraces the heated attraction that sizzles between them, and Cassin comes to see her as more than a financial backer, he falls in love with her as his wife.
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Any Groom Will Do (The Brides of Belgravia)
As a young child, Willow Hunnicut was stricken with an illness that almost took her life. Though she survived, the doctor informed her and her parents that she would never be able to bear a child of her own. Eight year old Willow then stoically packed up all her dolls, vowed never to marry, and began to develop her artistic talent. Over the years, her wealthy parents indulged her by letting her redesign their home several times. Now at age twenty-five, and with her father deceased, Willow longs to travel to London to apprentice with her aunt and uncle, who have a successful design and furniture building business. Unfortunately, Willow’s mother won’t allow this, and Willow longs for the freedom that a married woman has. Only – she doesn’t want the husband that goes along with that freedom. Then she and her two friends come up with a scheme…
Brent Caulder, Earl Cassin, and his two friends and business partners have the opportunity to make themselves a fortune if they can find a wealthy investor. When Cassin spies an advertisement posted on the docks, offering financial backing for gentleman sailors who travel abroad, he is quick to investigate. Rather than reply by mail, Cassin travels directly to the address, which happens to be Willow’s home. Her scheme was to offer her substantial dowry in exchange for marriage with a man who will be content to live apart and stay away. Her advertisement was intentionally written very vaguely, so that Willow could weed out the unfavorable replies. Cassin is shocked to be met by a beautiful young woman, and even more so when he learns the true terms of her offer. He has every intention of refusing, but he finds himself returning, and accepting.
Though Cassin tells himself he only agreed to the marriage to protect Willow from unscrupulous or dangerous characters, he is very strongly attracted to her. As they work out the details of their upcoming wedding, they share some surprising kisses that affect both of them deeply. Cassin longs for a physical relationship, but Willow is not willing to gamble with her heart unless Cassin wants to change their terms to a real marriage. Cassin backs down, and continues with his plans to sail with his two friends to Barbados, where they begin their project. Meanwhile, Willow, now a married woman, travels to London, and begins living her dream of apprenticing as a designer.
As Cassin and Willow correspond, their letters change from formal to friendly to affectionate. Oh, those letters! I loved watching them fall in love via the post. They were both already half in love when they married, but the beautifully written words have sent them both tumbling, and longing for the time when they’ll see each other again. When a family emergency calls Cassin home, he first stops to see Willow. Their reunion is sweet and warm, and they finally have their long overdue wedding night. They then set out to travel to Cassin’s home, only to find tragedy waiting for them, and a situation that could change everything.
There are so many things I loved about ANY GROOM WILL DO. First, it is so refreshing that this couple was totally honest with each other from the beginning. Willow never hid her inability to have children, and Cassin was always honest about his situation and his developing feelings. That honesty played so beautifully into their romance as it developed. Both Cassin and Willow are honorable, genuinely likeable, and so perfect for each other. This is my first experience reading Charis Michaels, and I am bowled over by her lovely writing and the emotions she generated. A couple of the scenes were truly heart-wrenching, and I was totally captivated. I believe I’ve found a new must-read author, and look forward to the upcoming books which feature Willow’s two friends, who have married Cassin’s two friends. ANY GROOM WILL DO is a beautifully written, genuinely romantic, and emotional story that I loved and highly recommend.