The Marquis Who Mustn’t

The Marquis who Mustn't

by Courtney Milan
Series: Wedgeford Trials #2
Setting: England
Genres: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Victorian, Fiction / Romance / Multicultural & Interracial
Published on October 17, 2023
Pages: 331
Format: eARC

One good fraud deserves another…

Miss Naomi Kwan has long wanted to take ambulance classes so that she can save lives. But when she tries to register, she’s told she needs permission from the man in charge of her. It would be incredibly wrong to claim that the tall, taciturn Chinese nobleman she just met is her fiancé, but Naomi is desperate, and desperate times call for fake engagements. To her unending surprise, Liu Ji Kai goes along with her ruse.

It’s not that Kai is nice. He’s in Wedgeford to practice his family business, and there’s no room for “nice” when you’re out to steal a fortune. It’s not that the engagement is convenient; a fake fiancée winding herself into his life and his heart is suboptimal when he plans to commit fraud and flee the country.

His reason is simple: Kai and Naomi were betrothed as children. He may have disappeared for twenty years, but their engagement isn’t actually fake. It’s the only truth he’s telling.

This is the second book in the Wedgeford Trials series. It isn’t absolutely necessary to read the first one but it will help to establish the history of this predominately Chinese settlement in England.

Naomi is trying to expand her life. She wants more than working in the family inn. She wants to be able to help when help is needed. She’s been trying for years to sign up for a class on first aid in a neighboring town but her parents worry about her going alone. When she works up the nerve to defy them, she is told that she needs a man’s permission to sign up. She grabs a nearby Chinese stranger and claims that he is her fiancé and he plays along and signs her up.

What she doesn’t know is that he is the son of a man who scammed a lot of her friends and family out of a lot of money. He’s come back to finish the job. But when the town welcomes him back, it throws his plans off course.

I’m lucky enough to be on Courtney Milan’s ARC review list. I love reading her books. There is a whole lot more going on here than just romance. Kai is trying redeem himself and separate himself from his father’s crimes. Naomi is trying to make a new role for herself since she hasn’t gotten married and fulfilled the life that most people expect for a woman of the time. She very much does not want to end up like her mother. She needs to realize that she may only have a surface understanding of what is going on in the lives of other people around her though.

There was some surprise asexual representation slipped in here through some secondary characters. I always love that.

I don’t think this book is as strong as the first book in the series but it was fun and sweet.