Lady Emily Clearbrook secretly loved Jared, the Earl of Stonebridge, but one day, he left her without a word. Now, years later, Emily’s four brawny brothers have decided she needs to marry. With no idea about Emily’s past love, the Clearbrook brothers ask their friend, Lord Stonebridge, to guard Lady Emily from unfit suitors until they find her a proper husband. With his dangerous past, the last thing Stonebridge needs is to be watchdog to Lady Emily. But he certainly cannot tell her brothers that the person Emily needs the most protection from is himself!
Rating: B- for narration, D for content
The Rejected Suitor was originally published in 2004, and I regret to say that I don’t think it has aged well. The story revolves around the on-off romance between Lady Emily Clearbrook and Jared Ashton, Lord Stonebridge, who had fallen in love three years earlier, but were unable to marry because her father refused to grant them permission. Following that, Jared had quickly married another woman and taken up a post in India, breaking Emily’s heart in the process.
In the year since his return from India as a widower, Jared has been working undercover for the British government, his sooper-sekrit identity known only to a select few – including Emily’s eldest brother, who has worked alongside him. And unbeknownst to both her brother and Jared, Emily has a sooper-sekrit identity of her own, assumed when she began to work for Whitehall, too, to dull the pain caused by Jared’s abrupt defection and departure.
This isn’t a spy story, however – and more’s the pity, because then it might have been more interesting.
The book opens as Lady Emily’s four brothers inform her that they will shortly be choosing her a husband, much to her dismay. She is headstrong, beautiful and rich, and they want to make sure she doesn’t end up in the clutches of some unscrupulous fortune hunter. Her eldest brother, Roderick, Duke of Elbourne, is dictatorial (to put it mildly) and acts as though he has a stick up his arse for most of the book. And the others aren’t much better. Almost the entire first chapter – about twenty-five minutes long – consists of the five of them having the following conversation:
“You must marry the man we choose.”
“Daddy said I could choose my own husband.”
“Our father has been dead for three years, we’re your guardians now, and you do what we say.”
“No. And you’re all idiots.”
“How dare you, you inferior female!”
As he and his brothers are about to remove to London, the duke decrees that Emily should go to stay at the country home of Agatha Appleby, a friend of the family. But they need someone there to keep an eye on her. How about Agatha’s nephew, the newly minted Earl of Stonebridge (Jared)? He’s staying with his aunt, and is the ideal person to keep an eye on Emily! (*rolls eyes*)
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.