He owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.
Everyone thinks Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street,” has it all, but he wants the one prize money can’t buy: his childhood sweetheart.
Alysia Villier can’t say if it’s worse having Andrew’s father in control of her inheritance or Andrew in control of her heart. He’s ruined her for any other man, but she simply can’t give in to him. She knows he’s destined for great things — marrying a courtesan’s daughter would jeopardize everything he stands for.
Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew, and he won’t be stopped by his old-fashioned family or the disapproval of the ton. After all, he’s a man with the power to play newspapers and investors like pawns, tumble world markets and incite riots… but can he win the biggest gamble of his life?
Rating: Narration: B-, Content: C+
This is book two in Ms Densley’s Rougemont series, the first of which (Song for Sophia) I awarded a B grade at All About Romance. I enjoyed listening to The King of Threadneedle Street, although it is very different in tone to the earlier book, and I feel it to be the weaker of the two in terms of plot and characterisation.
The hero and heroine are Andrew Tillmore, Earl of Preston, heir to the Marquess of Courtenay, and Courtenay’s ward, Alysia Villier. The pair have grown up together and as the years have passed, their childhood friendship has turned into something more. Andrew is determined to marry Alysia but, even though she is just as much in love with him as he with her, she turns him down, insisting a marriage between them would be to his detriment, for Alysia is the orphaned, bastard daughter of the Marquess’ former mistress, left to his guardianship upon her mother’s death.
For the past few years, Alysia has run the Courtenay household (Andrew’s mother being too indolent to do so) and has been acting as the Marquess’ steward, being in essence an unpaid servant. But as soon as Alysia has finished overseeing the arrangements for the imminent marriage of Andrew’s sister, she is expected to leave the house and make her own way, which means turning to her mother’s profession and finding herself a rich protector.
Andrew is furious, and his father, in his desperation to separate them, bundles Alysia off to Paris, where she is introduced to society by Madame Desmarais. The Madame is, unbeknownst to her, nothing more than a high-class pimp preparing to sell Alysia off to the highest bidder. When Andrew manages to find out where she is, he spirits her away to Rougemont, the home of the Earl and Countess of Devon (Wil and Sophia from the previous book).
Andrew’s plan is to wait until Alysia attains her majority, at which point his father’s guardianship will end and she will be free to do as she pleases. But that is almost three years away at the beginning of the book, and it will be a long and difficult wait that will see Alysia discovering her true parentage, and Andrew pursuing her across Europe.
While the story is enjoyable, and the fact that the central couple is already in love is a refreshingly unusual one, I can’t help but feel that there was just TOO much happening in terms of the plot to allow for much by way of character development. We first met Andrew in Song for Sophia and at seventeen, he was already a formidable financial whizz-kid. At twenty-two, he speaks several languages, owns a castle, is acquainted with royalty and has earned himself the moniker of “The King of Threadneedle Street”. In fact, he has already made himself a substantial fortune and has no need of his father’s money, so I couldn’t help asking myself why he and Alysia didn’t just elope! But Alysia doesn’t want Andrew to be disadvantaged by marrying the daughter of a notorious courtesan, and believes that separation is the best course for them both. She does genuinely love him, but her insistence on not marrying him for his own good becomes wearing after a time.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.