The last man Judith Worth wants to see again is Christian Trent, the Marquess of Ashford – the man who spent summers at her family home, who kissed her one magical night…and then heartlessly ruined her father. But when a tricky business matter arises, he’s the only one she can ask for help. With any luck, he’ll engage a servant to take care of the matter, and she won’t even have to talk with him.
But Ashford has never forgotten Judith. He knows she will never forgive him for what he’s done, but when offered the chance to assist her, he arrives in person. His memory of Judith may have haunted him, but it pales in comparison to the reality of the vivacious, beautiful woman he rediscovers. Throughout his life, he has always done what is correct. But now, he finds himself doing something utterly wrong…falling in love with the one woman he can never have.
Rating: Narration – A; Content – B
I always find books and audiobooks by Courtney Milan difficult to review, usually because she explores such complex, meaty themes that it’s hard to talk about them all without writing a literary treatise! Once Upon a Marquess presented me with just that challenge because, as the first in a series that the author is envisioning as seven full-length novels plus several spin-off novellas, there is a lot of setting up to be done and a lot of back-story to get through whilst also telling the story of two former lovers who were torn apart by a scandal that rocked English society.
Lady Judith Worth, daughter of the Earl of Linney, is now the sole support of her siblings Benedict, Theresa and Camilla. Eight years previously, their father was convicted of treason and subsequently committed suicide, and their elder brother, Anthony, was transported following his conviction for the same crime. They are living in very reduced circumstances, supported by Judith’s talent for designing and making clockwork devices. She has earned enough money over the years to be able to send Benedict to Eton, to set something aside for her sisters and to keep a roof over their heads, but life is far from easy. One sister, Camilla, is missing and hasn’t been heard from in almost seven years; Theresa is… different and, as Judith discovers at the beginning of the story, Benedict is being badly bullied at school and won’t go back there.
I suspect that I would have given a lower rating for content had I been reviewing the print edition. This is one of those times when the narrator elevates the story.