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In this sixth novel of The School for Heiresses series, Charlotte Page is trying to save her school from financial collapse in early 19th Century England. A threatening neighbor plans a sale that would ruin the reputation of her school if it were known to be placed next to a business where gambling, drinking and roaming men were the order of the day. All of a sudden, her business advisor, the mysterious Cousin Michael is not returning her letters directly or through her lawyer. But it turns out now that an old, brief flame has appeared with news of a substantial inheritance gift and even more financial backing should she meet the condition of building a new school elsewhere.
Why is Lord David Kirkwood announcing this gift from his deceased wife and why is he offering her help after the awful act she committed those many years ago which ultimately shamed him so deeply that he became a social outcast for a very long time? Does he have some diabolical plan for revenge? Why is he still so attractive to her, so much so that she has to assert her focus on her school before she does something she might later regret? Why does David find her independence so alluring and yet so intolerably annoying?
The story moves back to their original meeting, a time when women were expected to agree to an arranged marriage for political or financial gain. Charlotte wants none of that and is planning how to rebuff David Kirkwood, only to be surprised by the way he initially attempts to repel her as well. But all that changes when they first see each other, years after her shame as a "monkey" tomboy. She puts her thoughts in writing as a venting exercise and the results are absolutely disastrous.
But David is not one to be easily cast aside years from now. As the plot thickens, he discovers secrets about his late wife and family and Charlotte learns how David really feels about her and what he actually does to prove his devotion. During this process, David learns what an independent, strong-willed woman Charlotte is, ready to fall in love anew but not to sell her body or soul in the process.
Wed Him Before You Bed Him is a feisty, well-plotted, intriguing story that will thrill old and new readers of this well-loved series. Very nicely done, Ms. Jeffries!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on August 21, 2009