I have a soft spot for romances where the hero is in disguise when they meet their heroine. Not sure what calls to me, but each time I read a romance with that conflict, I adore it. The great part is this - it is just the first of a three-book series with the same premise! This book is an earl disguised as a footman, the next is the duke disguised as a groomsman, and the last is a marquess disguised as a valet. The whole series is like catnip to me! These days, we all make assumptions based on a person's status and wealth in society, and it often leads to not really knowing who the person is beneath all the trappings. I think we'd all wish sometimes to be in disguise and see how we're treated differently, as I imagine it would open our eyes to another world.
Lucas Drake, the Earl of Kendall, is not about to get his heart broken again. After being thrown over while away at war by his title-hungry fiance, he is determined that his wife will be someone who will look past his wealth and see him for who he is. Upon announcing he will be in disguise at a house party dressed as a servant, to scope out the young ladies for the next season, his friends decide to do the same. Soon they are each disguised as a servant, Lucas taking the role of footman, and he quickly meets a woman unlike any other he has met before. Miss Frances Wharton knows she must make a good match to satisfy her mother, as their finances have been run almost dry by their gambling father. However, she would rather not marry at all, if she can't marry for love. Upon meeting Lucas, she is immediately intrigued, and as they spend more time together, she realizes she is falling for him. A footman and a lady could never make it work...unless the footman was not really a footman.
I loved this couple so much, particularly Frances! She was such a breath of fresh air for this time period, no wonder Lucas fell in love with her. She was friendly to servants, had a good relationship with her sister, and cared not a whit for titles. Frances also was greatly invested in politics, which was unusual then, and her views didn't align with Lucas'...at first. Although she was a bit over-the-top at times with her reaction to Lord Kendall, a man she had never met, based on his vote for the Employment Bill, it was understandable given her experiences. Which made the deception Lucas carried out so nail-bitingly tense, as you know as a reader that eventually she will figure it out. Lucas was a sweetheart, clearly, and although deception isn't something I generally encourage, I don't blame him for what he did. His reactions to Frances were heartfelt, and you could tell it was harder each day for him to lie to her. In addition to the couple, I liked some of the secondary characters as well, particularly the housekeeper in the beginning, for putting up with the shenanigans. It was fun to see how the servants reacted to having nobility among them for a short time.
Great couple, warm romance, and it whet my appetite for the next book in the series. I can't wait to read about the duke and his lady!
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**