This delightful Regency romance is part of a series called The Worthingtons but can be read as a standalone novel. Dorothea ‘Dotty’ Stern has come down from the country to stay with her friend Lady Charlotte Carpenter for the Season with no immediate thought of marriage. When she meets the the dour and reputedly heartless Dominic, Marquis of Merton, the attraction is immediate but initially resisted by both parties. Dotty is certainly not quite what a Marquis should marry as she is only the daughter of a baronet yet Merton is drawn to her. Dotty is kindhearted with a propensity for taking in strays and waifs. Dotty manages to draw Merton into her efforts, from rescuing kittens and small boys to uncovering the darker aspects of the Regency period such as the exploitation of women and children. As Dotty and Merton’s relationship develops, there are others who are less than pleased and are willing to go to go to any length to ensure they do not end up together.
Quinn’s research is meticulous and her knowledge of the period comparable to that of Georgette Heyer. Her characters are engaging and likeable and in the case of Dotty and Merton do linger in the mind after finishing the book. With Merton, in particular, the reader comes to understand what has made him the rigid and humourless person he seems to be at the start of the novel and to watch as he develops through his relationship with Dotty.
Quinn’s prose is unobtrusive and seamlessly sprinkled with period references. There are also many genuinely humourous moments and several nail-biting incidents. My only quibble, and this may be because I am not a regular reader of this sub-genre of romance, is that I found the ‘romantic’ elements a bit clunky. I really did not need regular reports on what was happening in Merton’s groin, and I found one particular ‘encounter’ in the gallery at Lady Thornhill’s tacky (not too far removed from the goings on in darkened corners of nightclubs, so I am told). These are minor criticisms though as, overall, When a Marquis Chooses a Bride was a delightful read. A pleasant escape from the hyper-reality of so much modern fiction with the comfort of knowing that all will turn well out in the end.
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