Widowed Hannah Preston is about to lose her home to the new Vicar coming to Middleboro. Her husband has been gone for six months, and with no other prospects in sight, she will be reduced to moving back in with her father and his new wife.
David Reece, ne’er-do-well brother to the Duke of Exeter crashes into Hannah’s life one fine day; drunk, injured and the victim of a reckless carriage race with his pal, Percy. Caring for the spoiled and injured David has fallen to Hannah as he can’t be moved for several weeks. As the days pass, David and Hannah form a friendship and David appears to be mending his reckless ways. Wanting to pay Hannah back for her unselfish kindness, David proposes a marriage of convenience; to provide a home for Hannah and her young daughter, Molly. After many sleepless moments filled with David’s offer, Hannah finally accepts, but it appears Percy has helped David to see what all he will be giving up in marrying the widow; so the two hatch an audacious plan to help Hannah while paying David’s brother back for his haughty demeanor.
Marcus Reece, Duke of Exeter, has rescued his brother throughout their lives; getting him out of one scrape or another. Taking his place has become a habit in some of the worst scrapes, but Marcus never expected to have to take the place of husband to a plain and provincial country widow. It appears David has signed Marcus’ name to the Church Register in Middleboro, and Hannah is now the Duke’s Duchess! This time David has pushed his brother too far, and were it not for his stepmother and sister thinking he’s married, he would let David bail himself out of this mess himself!
What begins as a temporary charade soon begins to take on new repercussions as Marcus and Hannah discover they have more in common than they thought, and the web of lies they have built may come crashing around them at the least provocation. For such a cold and uncaring Duke, Hannah is a breath of fresh air, keeping him confused and feelings things he has never felt before. For Hannah, she can see the emotion and the selflessness Marcus tries desperately to hide. As fate would have it (or David) a lonely man and a warm and caring woman come together to heal each other and provide the love and family both crave.
Brilliant characterization and a truly delicious ploy had me captured form the first page. David was such a charming wastrel; scheming, charming, frivolous, and generally enjoying life. Marcus; the cold, emotionless Duke with a heart of gold, selflessly putting himself forward to be the “bad guy” to save his brother from disappointing those who love him; a lonely man who craved to be loved for himself, and not his title. Hannah was a warm hearted, responsible, virtuous woman, with honest values and forthright manner; a hoyden at times, a loving and devoted mother and friend to the end. She craved a place to belong with someone who loved her for herself as well. Rosalind and Celia, stepmother and sister to the Reece brothers; women who loved these men no matter what and would go to any lengths to see them happy, even matchmaking if needed. Bentley Reece, the jealous cousin and Susannah, the scorned mistress; rounded out the cast. All of these characters came together to make a well-written and engaging story to satisfy any Regency fan.
Fast paced tension, steamy love scenes, and a brilliant cast make WHAT A GENTLEMAN WANTS a beautiful love story and a fabulous summer read. I hope there is a story about David being written; what a charming devil to ignore!