Thursday, April 2, 2015

What a Lady Requires by Ashlyn Macnamara

The Basics:
What a Lady Requires by Ashlyn Macnamara
Historical Romance
Book Three in the Eton Boys trilogy
Published April 1, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

Despite having one of the worst covers I've seen so far this year, this book was everywhere and people seemed to be excited about it, so I had to check it out.


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.

My thoughts:

Let me get this off my chest: I hate the cover of this book. There's something that looks really soft about the back of this man, and something almost computer generated or perhaps just so Photoshopped that all the contours and marks and such that make a man manly are gone. And the skin tone looks wrong to me. And I hate it. I do. I find it completely unappealing, and I would never, ever pick it up in a store. Ever. Because I am so not attracted to the cover.

Phew, okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about What a Lady Requires. This book is apparently the last in a trilogy - which I have not read the rest of, but I never felt this put me at any disadvantage. The story focuses on the sudden marriage of Emma and Rowan who are forced together when Rowan finds himself desperately needing cash. Emma's large dowry will easily pay off his creditors, and her financial know-how might actually keep him afloat, while she will move up the social ladder from mere daughter of a wine merchant to wife of the brother of an Earl. 

Given how often historical romances reference marriages made for these reasons - social standing exchanged for improved finances - I have to say, it was rather refreshing to actually read a story that used this as the foundation for the romance! 

I quite liked both Emma and Rowan. Their flaws and strengths complimented each other well, and I thought they were pretty believable characters. I do wish that they'd had a chance to spend more time together to become friendly. As it was, I thought they didn't have great chemistry. Rowan had so much baggage and though they had a few moments that I thought were sweet or cute or sexy, there wasn't enough to add up to a particularly satisfying romance. It was okay for me, but not wow. 

As for the story beyond the romance, I thought it was decent. Financial dealings, investment schemes and the like are often colour in these books but, I think, rarely the focus. I found the details about wine to be most interesting and would actually like to read more about wineries and wine-importing during the early nineteenth century.

Bottom line:

What a Lady Requires was already at a disadvantage with me because of that cover, but I did try to give it a fair shot. In the end, for me, this was only an okay historical romance. I wasn't inspired to go hunt down the others in the trilogy, but your mileage may (and probably will) vary. 

3.5 stars
For fans of historical romance

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of What a Lady Requires:

Marcilene's Fan Zone

(Un)Conventional Book Views

Keeper Bookshelf

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