What a Lady Requires is your standard historical romance. It had all the right elements, but for me, it was lacking a little something extra. After finishing the book, I don’t think it will be one that stands out in my mind. Quite simply, I didn’t find the characters all that memorable.
Miss Emma Jennings is the daughter of an extremely wealthy tradesman. She is well aware that it is her duty to marry well, and by well, she’s aware that it will be a man with a title. Soon Emma finds herself betrothed and married to poor aristocrat, Rowan Battencliffe (a second son, the horror!). Rowan isn’t exactly a wiz at finances so Emma is actually quite happy to continue to manage his (well, her’s really) finances. Emma is rather good with money and while she does try to explain things to Rowan, it’s very clear that she does not want to relinquish control over the household.
Rowan wasn’t displeased to find himself married to Emma, but he’s not exactly thrilled to find himself living in her home as it’s the scene of where he once betrayed his closest friend. The history of the house, his secret betrayal and Emma’s own secrets prevent Rowan and Emma from having a true marriage. Of course, these secrets come out, causing trouble for everyone.
For the most part, I didn’t mind What a Lady Requires. I liked the premise as I always find it rather funny to hear about the scandal of “trade” in the historical romance genre. While enjoying the premise, I found the characters of Emma and Rowan to be sorely lacking in dimension.
Emma and Rowan came across as very simplistic characters. Emma loved finances and Rowan liked the living the easy life. Yes, they both kind of changed throughout the book, but I never really got the sense of a real connection between the two characters. Emma and Rowan spent so much time apart, there was really little time for them to develop a romantic relationship. The romantic tension seemed halfhearted.
I also found some of the character’s reactions to events to be rather subdued and unrealistic. Specifically, Rowan’s attitude towards his betrayal of his best friend. Yes, he was guilty about it, but it came out very early on that Rowan was apparently the father of his best friend’s heir. What got me, was that he never seemed to care about his apparent child. He continued to express his guilt for cuckolding his best friend, but never expressed any dissatisfaction for not knowing his own kid. It seemed hardhearted and emotionless for him not to consider this child and it made him kind of a weak hero, at least, in my opinion.
While What a Lady Requires had all the standard elements to a good historical romance, it lacked a depth of character that I generally like to see in the romances that I read. I am a character driven reader and I just wasn’t a fan of the flat characters in What a Lady Requires.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
The premise to What a Lady Requires put me immediately in mind of Tracy Anne Warren’s Seduced by His Touch, in which the heroine is also married for her money by a poor aristocratic. Complications arise since she has no idea that that was his motivation. This was a much more emotional read and the connection between the characters just seemed more believable.
For another marriage between an heiress of “trade” and a impoverished aristocratic, try Rose Lerner’s In for a Penny. While this one is not without it’s issues, I found it to be a highly entertaining and engaging read. A lot of time was spent on the characters getting to know one another after the marriage of convenience, and I really appreciated this fact (and it was what I thought was missing in What a Lady Requires).