Tuesday 9 May 2023

To Marry and To Meddle

Finished May 3
To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters

I enjoyed the fourth book in this series, To Swoon and To Spar, and decided to go back and read some of the earlier ones. This is the third in the series. 
Lady Emily Turner has had six seasons as a debutante. She's very pretty and would be expected to have married by now, but her father has had a quiet word with any man that showed interest and thereafter he has not come by again. She has been regularly escorted to functions by Mr. Cartham, the American owner of the gambling houses her father has been in debt to, and has managed through her cautious behaviour and good manners to have a pristine reputation despite that. 
As the story opens she has been able to escape her mother's oversight and gone to a country house with her married friends under the chaperonage of Lady Willingham. Lord Julian Belfry, second son of a marquess has gone his own way for years, and owns a theatre with a questionable reputation. It is the type of theatre that is quite popular, but not one that gentlemen take their wives to. Julian has set his sights on making his theatre more reputable and has come up with the idea of marrying Emily to use her society connections to attract better clientele. This plan will benefit Emily from removing her from her parents' control, allowing her more freedom and let her no longer have to associate with the questionable Mr. Cartham. Unlike Emily's previous potential suitors, Julian has his own contacts in that world and enough wealth to deal with Lord Turner's debts. He has the even better idea to use his contacts to get a special license and thus marry Emily during the stay at the country house, thus presenting her parents with a fait accompli. 
Emily is totally on board with this and the marriage takes place early in the book. The plot then follows how they deal with their families, society as a whole, and Julian's theatre plans. Besides the characters from the previous books in the series, and some of the ones from book four, we also see some of the theatre characters, including actresses, playwrights, and the French theatre manager and his family. 
I enjoyed this one just as much as the fourth book, and loved Emily and her female friends who encourage her in many ways. 
A great read.   

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