When a rake beyond redemption…
A walking scandal surviving on little more than wits, whisky, and wicked skills in the bedchamber, Benedict Chatham, the new Marquess of Rutherford, is at the end of his rope. Deeply in debt and down to his last farthing, he must marry nothing short of an absolute fortune, or risk utter ruin.
Must marry for money…
Enter Miss Charlotte Lancaster, unfashionably tall heiress to just such a fortune and a clumsy, redheaded disaster in her five London seasons. While she dreams of leaving England for a life of trade in America, her father schemes to trade her dowry for a title—and Marchioness of Rutherford will do nicely. Charlotte wants her independence, not a husband, and certainly not a disreputable devil who renders her weak and wobbly with a single scorching glance. But she’s a practical sort, and a year with the devil might buy her freedom … provided she can resist his seductive charms. That shouldn’t prove a problem, for he could not possibly want someone like her, and the feeling is mutual. Really. It is.
Love grows in the most unexpected places…
When her father demands a startling price for his daughter’s hand—one year of fidelity and sobriety—Chatham must change his libertine ways … at least temporarily. And when he does, Charlotte begins to see him in a new light—not as the scandalous charmer she married, but as the husband she just might adore.
Five star read!
'The Devil is a Marquess' is the fourth instalment in Elisa Braden's 'Rescued from Ruin' series and continues the high standard set by each of the previous stories. I absolutely loved it! It can be read as a stand alone but I definitely recommend reading the first three simply because they are brilliant.
Chatham was introduced in the first book 'The Madness of Viscount Atherbourne' and plays a part in each of the subsequent books. He was portrayed as such a dissolute (but intriguing) character that it was difficult to imagine how he could be redeemed. Described as tall, thin and perpetually intoxicated it was impossible to see how he could be desirable as a hero. Elisa manages to do it and in a spectacular and believable fashion.
The basic premise of the story is that Chatham has recently inherited his father’s title and debts and is fast sinking into dun territory. Despite his brilliant mind he has no source of income except via gaming, selling secrets and women. He is offered a lifeline by Charlotte's father. Marry Charlotte and in exchange for his title his debts would be paid along with a potential addition of £200,000. The only stipulation? Stay sober and faithful for one year. Feeling sobriety would be more difficult than faithfulness Chatham nevertheless seizes the opportunity.
Enter Charlotte. Charlotte is a refreshing breath of fresh air as a heroine. She has her troubles – being seen as too tall, too clumsy and too American to be desirable to potential suitors, she has always felt like an outsider. Her greatest desire is to return to America [even though she has not been there since she was 5] where she feels she will finally be accepted. She is appalled when told she will have to marry Chatham and does her level best to avoid this fate. However, when she realises she cannot dissuade her father, she decides to make the best of things and make as good a life as she can with Chatham until she is free in one year.
This is where I found Charlotte so refreshing. This is all resolved in the first part of the book. Charlotte quickly realises that there is much more to Chatham than meets the eye and recognises his potential. Forced to spend the year on a rundown estate – the only thing Chatham has been unable to sell off – Charlotte resolves to help him rejuvenate the house and lands with no clear benefit to herself since she will be off to America in a year. Despite Chatham’s attempts to discourage her she stays optimistic.
Chatham himself is initially resistant to the idea until Charlotte’s determination and faith makes him have a hard look at himself [even though there are reasons he became this way] and he slowly realises how satisfying it is to physically work hard and achieve something for himself.
What follows is a beautiful story of how two initially resistant people become friends and then fall in love. I really liked the fact that there are no real heroics – just a sincere tale of a man overcoming his demons and gaining a sense of self worth with the friendship and love of a woman who does not judge him, but supports and encourages him. She is exactly what Chatham needed and in turn Charlotte needed Chatham to prove to her that she is desirable and wanted in her own right. Elisa has filled the book with beautiful moments – the flask, the late night conversations – which portray their developing relationship. What is important is that Charlotte doesn’t set out to change Chatham – she simply brings out his innate good qualities - he can still be irresistibly devilish when he wants to be!
They are helped along by a wonderful cast of side characters who each help Charlotte and Chatham realise how perfect they are for each other. I loved Peter and Emma especially. I loved the unlikely friendship between Chatham and Peter and their banter is really humorous.
The book has its share of misunderstandings which are resolved realistically and quickly, and laugh out loud humour – Mr Pryor’s visit a particular high point! The asides from Lady Wallingham at the beginning of each chapter are also hilarious!
I completely fell in love with Benedict Chatham and he and Charlotte make a wonderful couple. I absolutely recommend this wonderful story and if you have not had an opportunity to read Elisa’s previous books – you should go and snap them up immediately. I guarantee you will not be disappointed! I am waiting with bated breath for Viola and Tannenbrook’s story.
I was very generously given an ARC by the author for my honest review.