Please note that this book is the second one in the series; the first book is subtitled Dukes of War #0.
I really enjoyed this book and Ms. Ridley's writing all the way up until the last chapter. The ending was much too perfect for it to be believable (other than the HEA which was believable). This book takes place right after Christmas, so there is a little overlap in time between the first two books.
The heroine, Grace, is an American heiress looking for a titled and very wealthy husband in London's marriage mart of 1816. Grace's mother left England due to falling for an American and was cut off, financially and emotionally, from her parents. Grace's mother is very sick, so they scheme to get Grace to travel and live with the grandparents long enough to secure a marriage. Grace is a fish out of water, and the London high society mock her about everything, including that she is new money (money made from trade) rather than being born into nobility. Grace rang true for me; she had one goal in mind and that was to help her mother as best she could as a young woman in 1816.
The hero, Oliver, is the new earl of Carlisle after the death of his asshole father and Oliver's time fighting the French. Over the course of the first few chapters, Oliver comes to the realization that his father's last fuck you to him is to leave him an estate. a title, and tens of people depending on him, but no fortune to upgrade and maintain the legacy. Oliver is in need of a wealthy heiress to pay off debts and get the estate back to functioning.
Fortunately, our couple fall for each other rather than people that would help them in their goals. Their relationship, full of humor, passion, and compassion, is what I love about historical romance. Ms. Ridley knows how to do humor and conversation so well; I had a big old goofy smile on my face reading a few passages. In the end, both chuck out their plans for marrying into wealth and decide that love and hard work will get the marriage and estate functioning. I could have the HEA right there at the altar. Then came those last pages and I rolled my eyes so much its any wonder why they didn't get stuck like that. Money rained down from everywhere, making life so much easier for the estate to get back up and running. Furthermore, all family tensions ceased when money was to be found. I had to take one star off for the sickly sweet ending. 4 stars.