All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Improper Bride by Lily Maxton

on October 9, 2020

The Improper Bride (Sisters Of Scandal #5)
Lily Maxton
Entangled: Scandalous
2016, 292
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Cold, arrogant, and demanding Henry Eldridge, Marquess of Riverton, would never dally with a mere servant. But when Henry is injured in a horrible fire, his pretty housekeeper Cassandra nurses him back to health, throwing them together day and night. As he slowly heals from his burns, their friendship blossoms, and the class walls between them start to crumble. Cassandra is surprised by glimpses of a kind and thoughtful man beneath her employer’s hard façade—and even more surprised when she develops tender feelings for him. But anything between lord and servant is impossible…and besides, as a widow, she knows love only leads to heartbreak.

Henry is changing, as well. His close brush with death has opened his eyes to his self-imposed emotional isolation…and has urgently reminded him of his duty to marry a well-bred lady and produce an heir. Determined to do right by his family name, he immediately begins searching for a suitable bride. But Cassandra is the only woman who is never far from his mind or his heart. Contrary to everything he’s been taught to believe, he realizes his lovely housekeeper might just be his perfect match. Now, if only he could convince everyone else of that. Especially Cassandra…

This was also recommended in the thread I read on the romance subreddit where someone wanted books where grumpy, cold heroes fall in love with sunshiney heroines (aka Slytherins falling in love with Hufflepuffs). I’d disagree that this fits the bill of that last one. Cassandra doesn’t really seem like a Hufflepuff in my admittedly very limited Harry Potter knowledge. And although the hero was arrogant, it was more just he was completely oblivious to those lower in class to him, as people of the aristocracy pretty much always were.

However, Henry is quite badly burned in a fire and during his long convalescence his physician tells Cassandra, his housekeeper that if she can, she should find something to occupy his mind, lest he sink into a depression. Cassandra has an idea to get Henry to teach her a foreign language and once he gets past his incredulity that someone of a lower class might seek to learn something, he sort of agrees. The more time they spend together, the more attractive he finds her and even though the fire has made him feel his mortality and the need to further his line, the one woman he wants is one he feels he can never have (at first) given how far below him she is.

Cassandra is Not Like Other Housekeepers. She’s quite young, about 32, which although “old” in terms of women of marriageable age, is young for someone in such a position. She’s a widow and Henry is enamoured by her hair and her eyes. She also doesn’t mind telling him when he’s been rude or lacks manners, especially towards the staff. Henry doesn’t see the need to know their names or to thank them for “doing their jobs” – they should be invisible and carry out his every whim. Which was pretty much how most people seemed to feel about their household staff but Cassandra takes it upon herself to educate Henry that his staff are also people albeit not as privileged as he is, particularly when one of the maids seems to have potentially been taken advantage of.

This was okay. I feel like it doesn’t really address the actual reality of someone like Cassandra marrying so far above her station. She was a housekeeper, Henry is heir to a Dukedom. It would’ve been quite the scandal and this is something that absolutely concerns her whereas Henry, when he decides what he wants, is more like ‘meh, who cares?’ but there’s not really much of an insight as to the actual ways in which this marriage would’ve also made Cassandra’s life difficult as much as it would’ve made it easier. Being snubbed, gossiped about, treated rudely, cut by people etc are things that absolutely do have an impact on a person and it’s likely that any children they had would also have felt the touch of that scandal as well as the opinions of the aristocracy. As a Marquess, Henry would probably be relatively untouched by scandal, apart from the gossip but it’s hard to believe Cassandra finding place among the Countesses and Duchesses of society. Which fine, they might not wish to spend much time within it but the book for the most part, glosses over that sort of thing. Dukes, would-be Dukes etc, marrying below them is not an uncommon theme in historical romance and I suppose the reality of it isn’t particularly romantic but it’s something a lot of books mention and then immediately forget, or the charm and vivaciousness of the former housekeeper or poor person wins everyone over in the first five minutes of their introduction to society.

Because I spent a lot of time thinking about this, I wasn’t really that invested in the story. Henry’s evolution of arrogant, dickish Lord of the Manor who doesn’t know the name of his servants or care about their existence as long as they jump when he snaps his fingers to the complete opposite felt quite rapid and the duel at the end seemed really out of left field. This was fine in terms of it held my interest so that I finished it but I didn’t love it and wouldn’t seek out any more.


Book #186 of 2020


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