Can an Indecent Proposal
Eight years ago, a tall, handsome stranger entered Lady Alexandra’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne had agreed to wed and bed Lord Brute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the night…
Lead to Everlasting Love?
Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Alexandra is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night…without falling hopelessly in love?
To quote Charlie Brown – “Oh, Good Grief!” Here’s yet another of The Stupidest Titles Around attached to an historical romance. Is there some sort of competition for The Crappiest Title Ever of which I’m unaware?
Fortunately, the book is rather more readable than the title might suggest, although a better one might be The Worst Mother in the World, as it’s more indicative of something that actually happens in the book; try as I might, I couldn’t find the slightest bit of evidence to support the claim of Xavier Westruther, Marquess of Steyne to the epithet of Wickedest Lord Alive. Oh, we were told that he has a terrible reputation, holds orgies and keeps a string of mistresses…we just never see any of them (well, there’s a mistress) in this book.
The story opens with the twenty-one-year-old marquess being forced into marriage with the daughter of the vicious Earl of Bute in order to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. Young Xavier is furious at having been manoeuvred into such an invidious situation, but he nonetheless goes through with the marriage, consummates it and leaves. When he returns shortly afterwards to fetch his bride, she is nowhere to be found.
Eight years pass and we discover that Lady Alexandra-that-was is now living in the village of Little Thurston where she was taken in by the kindly vicar and his late wife. Professing to have lost her memory, she calls herself Lizzie Allbright and has built herself a new and comfortable life in the village.
Until, that is, the Marquess of Steyne arrives unexpectedly and tells her it’s time she resumed her role as his marchioness, particularly with reference to the begetting of an heir. Lizzie is naturally astonished – not only at her husband’s sudden appearance, but at the fact that he had actually known where she was but decided to leave her be to live her own life. She is annoyed at that – somewhat irrationally given she was the one who ran away in the first place, but Steyne believed he was doing the right thing by keeping away.
Of more importance, however, are his reasons for re-entering Lizzie’s life and demanding they get down to the business of making babies without delay. His current heir is his indolent and greedy uncle Bernard, who is far too in thrall to Xavier’s despicable and manipulative mother for comfort. Xavier has good reason to suspect that his life is in danger and wants to secure the succession in case the worst happens.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.