His Lordship's Swan" by Martha Kirkland is a wonderfully warm, funny and engaging read that revolves around the 'pretend' betrothal motif. And Lydia Swann, the heroine of this novel is one of the most engaging and charming of heroines that I've ever come across. Martha Kirkland did a wonderful job of portraying Lydia -- thus allowing the reader to fully enter into all of Lydia's feelings and emotions, and making it really easy to identify with and root for her.
Lord Evan Trent thought that he'd never have to worry about marrying and setting up a nursery, as he'd already found the ideal heir in his young 13 year old nephew, Jack. Unfortunately, a very bad illness renders Jack deaf, and devastated at his loss of hearing, Jack decides that he no longer wishes to be his uncle's heir, and to retreat from all society. So now Trent must find a wife, although he is loathed to do so. However, remembering the beautiful Swann twins from the previous Bath season, Trent decides to take a short cut and to solve his problem by impulsively writing to their father requesting the hand in marriage of the eldest daughter. What Trent does not know is that there are three Miss Swanns, and it is the eldest Miss Swann, Lydia, that he has inadvertently requested to marry. Trent is appalled at the dilemma he finds himself in. But what can he do?
Lord Beecham Swann however is ecstatic at the thought of marrying off at least one of his daughters credibly, and will not allow Lydia to refuse Trent's mistaken proposal. Lydia for her part knows that Trent meant to ask for one of her sisters, and is equally reluctant to marry Trent. For Lydia has been in love these past six years with her cousin by marriage, Sebastian Osbourne, and who just happens to be one of Trent's neighbours. Lydia hits on a plan: she and Trent will pretend to be betrothed, and Lydia will accompany Trent to his country estate for two weeks. Once there, Lydia will do all in her power to fix Sebastian's interest, and thus fulfill the twin tasks of marrying the man of her dreams, and getting Trent of the hook. Trent agrees with her plan but with some reservations. But anything is better than marrying red haired Lydia. What Trent doesn't bargain for is that Lydia with her wit, charm and loving heart would touch his, and make him wish that their sham betrothal was real. Can Trent persuade Lydia to forget Sebastian and take him on instead?
The thing about romance novels is that you know even before you read the first page of the book which characters are destined for the 'happily-ever-after' ending on the last page of the novel. The gift of a really good book (and authour) is that, even though you know how it will end, your interest as a reader is sustained, and that you root for the couple to come to their collective senses and find each other. "His Lordship's Swann" does this in spades. It made for such satisfying reading to see Trent and Lydia slowly come to realise that they were meant for each other. "His Lordship's Swann" is a wonderfully engaging and charming read, and truly deserves the five star rating.