The Husband Hunt
Avon, $7.99/digital $6.99, Feb. 28, 2012
Lisa Madison wants a husband, and she has just the candidate in mind: Robert Langley. Trouble is, the infuriating man insists on seeing her as the impish girl she once was—even as every other gentleman in London has taken notice of her womanly . . . charms. When her beauty lands her in danger, it’s Robert who comes to the rescue, only to announce his affections are not of the romantic kind!
Robert saw enough sorrow in his parents’ union to know he wants nothing to do with marriage, which is exactly what he’ll be trapped into if he acts on his desire for the irksome siren. And then Lisa does what Robert least expects: gives up on him! As feigned indifference gives way, blistering passion burns at last. But just before the pair can succumb to hard-won bliss, an enemy with unfinished business lurks, threatening to destroy them both.
Do you know that feeling when everyone seems to be in on a joke but you? There’s that paranoid, uncomfortable niggle that has you wondering if they’re laughing at you or if you’re just too dense to get what’s so funny. That’s what the hero of Lynsay Sands’s The Husband Hunt has to contend with as everyone in his family and circle of friends is conspiring to open his eyes and change his mind about marriage to a girl he’s known all of his life.
We’ve seen the “trapped into marriage by scheming family” scene a thousand times or more. But I can’t recall when the conspiracy involved the willing participation of everyone the hero considers friend or family.
It begins with a rescue. Lisa has naively managed to get herself kidnapped by a madam in a brothel. Her maid, who was also taken, manages to escape through the window and run to get Robert, Lord Langley, to come to the rescue.
Lisa has been not-so secretly in love with her neighbor, Robert, for forever. After he rescues her, sees her wearing next to nothing, and still acts with indifference, she resolves to set her sights, and her heart, elsewhere. But her family and his have different plans. They plot and scheme to make Robert admit his attraction to Lisa, with mixed success.
Daniel glanced to her and smiled gently. “Lisa my dear, Robert loves you. And not like a little sister,” he added dryly. “But he’s allowing his fears to prevent him from doing anything about it. He needed a nudge, so I supplied it.”
Multiple plots to catch Robert “ruining” Lisa and forcing a marriage provide much of the humor, but they also manage to help the two spend time together. Something Lisa is aware of, but Robert is not. Everyone he loves is conspiring to make him see the error of his ways.
“I suspect your best bet is to compromise him and force him to marry you.”
Lisa’s mouth dropped in amazement and then she asked, “Are you suggesting I seduce him, ensure we are caught, and that he has to marry me?”
“No, of course he isn’t,” Richard said coldly, glaring at his friend.
“But of course,” Suzette said at the same moment. “That would work. Robert is too much of a gentleman not to marry you if you were caught in a compromising situation. And once you are married, he will see that you are faithful and give up his fears.”
Putting the plan into action is not as easy as it first sounds, considering Lisa is, after all, still a virgin with no practical experience. All she has is some vague knowledge imparted through reading naughty books. What makes this highly unusual is that everyone—both Robert’s friends and Lisa’s family not only know about the compromise attempts, but offer pointers and encouragement.
“You can do this. You’ve read all those books and know what to do. Just pretend you are Fanny or Sophia and do all those delicious things you’ve read about. He will not be able to resist you.”
Lynsay Sands is an expert at farcical romances, and this one is no exception. This neighbors-to-lovers story is filled with funny moments, often bordering on the ridiculous, but is perfect for a quick, light read.
Amber McMichael, Romance and Mystery Reviews, Buried By Books