This review for the RITA® Reader Challenge was written by PLaatsch. This novel finaled in the Regency Historical category.
Plot Summary: When he becomes seventh Earl of Danecroft, rakish John Fitzhugh Wyckerly also inherits a crumbling estate and massive debts. Determined to do right, he reclaims his illegitimate daughter Penelope and heads to London in search of a very rich wife.
Abigail Merriweather’s farm has been quiet since she lost custody of her four young half-siblings-until a roguish gentleman named Fitz stops for a rest, his rebellious daughter in tow. His etiquette is questionable, his parenting deplorable-so why does Abby delight in his flirtations? And when she seeks a suitor to help her regain the children, why does Fitz keep popping up?
And here is the review:
Hmmm… You know these back cover copy summaries are a bit inaccurate sometimes. I don’t see Fitz as truly “rakish” which implies a lot more fast living, while Fitz gambles to have just enough to live like an idle gentleman. And he’s headed to Cheltenham to retrieve a racehorse he won in a card game when his daughter acts up and they get booted from the mail coach in the middle of nowhere.
The summary doesn’t mention Lady Bell, the widow of Abby’s distant cousin, who decides to use her scroogish late husband’s vast fortune to help out the impoverished women of the family. And Quentin, who bets her he can help his impoverished friends find rich wives.
When I first read this, I gave it 7/10 and noted: “Another unappreciated second son with a crumbling estate. It was nice to see a poor guy who didn’t suddenly, magically get rich, but figured out how to make it work with his wife’s small dowry. Quite well done.” (I read a LOT and keep a spreadsheet) I then forgot most of the details of Wyckerly and have been conflating it with JoBev’s Unlikely Countess.
On this re-read, I’m going to bump the grade up to a solid B. A bit forgettable, but with great characters.
Will this book win the Rita? I haven’t read all the books in the category and don’t know. Rice is up against MacLean, Hunter, and Dare, all of whose books I liked at least as well, if not better.