My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/the-lady-most-willing
Taran Ferguson is determined to see his family line secured. Since he has no children of his own, he has decided that one or both of his nephews, Byron Wotton, Earl of Oakley, and Robert “Robin” Parles, Comte de Rocheforte, must marry an heiress. As one nephew recently broke off an engagement and the other shows no signs of wedding soon, Taran does what he feels is necessary: he kidnaps brides for his nephews. With a snowstorm blocking any rescue attempts, Byron and Robin have their choice of:
- Lady Cecily Tarleton, eldest daughter of an extremely wealthy English earl;
- Miss Marilla Chisholm, an heiress and the most beautiful girl in the county; or
- Miss Fiona Chisholm, half-sister to Marilla and also an heiress, but with a stained reputation.
Oh and there’s the small matter of Taran’s men accidentally kidnapping the kind, but not at all wealthy Miss Catriona Burns. And also the very irritated Duke of Bretton. It’s a recipe for disaster, surely. Unless fate has a sense of humor and this farcical gathering in a decrepit Scottish castle leads to more than one love match…
Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, and Eloisa James know how to create an unconventional party! The Lady Most Willing… is a delightful romp with a vivacious, memorable cast of characters.
Right off the bat the authors reveal the romantic pairings, so it’s not a spoiler to talk about the couples. Catriona and Bret’s romance was my absolute favorite of the three. The two of them are utterly adorable together and their chemistry is so appealing that I had a grin on my face for much of their part of The Lady Most Willing… Byron and Fiona were quieter than their predecessors, but endearing in their own way. Both of them are a bit worse for the wear from their pasts and it was a delight to see them meet someone who not only loves them for who they truly are, but sees their true self. The only downside to having more staid characters is that they were overpowered by Fiona’s loud sister, who distracted me from Fiona and Byron’s story quite a bit. Finally, there’s Robin and Cecily, the impoverished comte and English heiress. For all that people see Cecily as shy and retiring, beneath that façade there’s a spine of steel and a confidence in her desires that made me adore her immediately. She goes after what — or rather who — she wants, and though Robin tries to be honorable by avoiding her, there’s no stopping Cecily on her quest for love. There’s a sweetness to their romance that simply made me sigh.
With such great characters, it’s easy to see why I enjoyed The Lady Most Willing… The only thing that kept me from loving the book as much I would have liked was the spoiled, obnoxious Marilla Chisholm. While she’s presented as a foil for the story’s heroines, I kept wishing she’d be squished by a caber or, at the very least, locked in a convenient dungeon. I give the authors credit for making her come to life, for, much like Bret, Byron, and Robin, I wanted to run and hide whenever she appeared. Still, even with the inclusion of Marilla, I was up reading The Lady Most Willing… late into the night.
As with Mses. Quinn, Brockway, and James’s last collaboration, The Lady Most Likely…, The Lady Most Willing… is truly a three part novel rather than an anthology, meaning that the stories all flow together perfectly. Although The Lady Most Willing… is a standalone novel, fans of The Lady Most Likely… might remember the Duke of Bretton from his appearance in that book.
Mses. Quinn, Brockway, and James are incredible authors whose skill for blending romance and humor shines in The Lady Most Willing… I do hope this dynamic trio collaborates again in the future, for — much like their characters — whether you take them separately or as a group, the result is a wonderfully entertaining adventure for readers.