First in the lester trilogy of Regency Romances,
This review is from: The Reasons for Marriage (Lester Family) (Kindle Edition)
At the outset of her writing career, well before she created the Cynster family and their friends and relatives, Stephanie Laurens wrote a trilogy of Regency romance novels about three siblings from the Lester family, Lenore, Jack, and Harry.
This is the first book in that trilogy, which consists of
1) This book, "The Reasons for Marriage" (Lenore),
2) A Lady of Expectations (Jack), and
3) An Unwilling Conquest (Harry).
The whole trilogy has also been published in one volume, as "Rogues' Reform: The Reasons for Marriage, a Lady of Expectations, an Unwilling Conquest," and the first two as "A Season for Marriage (STP - Mills & Boon lead)."
There is a fourth book in the series. One of the supporting characters in these novels, particularly "An Unwilling Conquest," is Lord Philip Ruthven, and Miss Laurens subsequently wrote a romance for him, entitled A Comfortable Wife. In that story, Lord Philip runs into a young lady who is determined to prove that she would make him a comfortable wife in the belief that this is what he wants. Fortunately for them both, in this belief she is entirely mistaken ...
Because these books were written well before the Cynster, Bastion Club, and Black Cobra books, all the Lester novels are much closer in form to the traditional regency romance story. They are consequently somewhat more innocent in tone: to be specific, they have rather less detailed description of lovemaking between the hero and heroine than most of Stephanie Lauren's more recent books.
Nor had Miss Laurens yet developed the plot which she has re-used with minor variations in 80% of her recent books. The standard Laurens plot goes as follows:
Noble rake meets intelligent spinster or widow in her late twenties, decides immediately that she is the woman he wants to marry, and that the best way to persuade her to marry him is to seduce her and thoroughly ravish her every twenty pages for the rest of the book. Unfortunately, because he doesn't have the sense to say certain important words, and she is only prepared to marry for love, she refuses to marry him until the villain tries to murder one of both of them and in the process of frustrating this dastardly plot, both hero and heroine discover and reveal their true feelings.
"The Reasons for Marriage" does not follow this template, though it contains hints from which you can see how Miss Laurens developed it.
The hero of the book, "The reasons for marriage" is the Duke of Eversleigh, who despite being a handsome man of high status and wealth who can be very charming when he wants to be, does not appear to be a great prospect as a romantic hero. He is extremely arrogant, an arch rake, does not suffer fools gladly, and up to the start of the book has been a confirmed batchelor. However, his brother has just died, which means that he will now have to marry to secure the future of the Dukedom. Having seduced a great many other men's wives, the Duke is determined to find a woman who will be faithful to him, and absolutely does not want to marry some hen-witted teenage deb.
Having decided that he wants to marry an intelligent lady of the ton with impeccable morals, experience of running a household, and whose company he has not already decided he cannot stand, he has very few candidates to choose from. In fact there appears to be only one candidate who perfectly fits the bill: Lady Lenore Lester, a virtual recluse who runs Lester Hall for her father and brothers.
Lenore Lester has long abandoned any thought of marriage and become adept at avoiding the attentions, not always honorable, of her brother's and father's guests at Lester Hall. It comes as rather a shock when no less a personage than a duke sees through her deliberately frumpish appearance and begins courting her. But are his reasons for marriage the ones she would share?
The subsequent books in the trilogy tell the story of Lenore's oldest brother Jack, who like the Duke of Eversleigh and a great many Stephanie Laurens heroes in subsequent books needs to marry to secure an heir, and then of the third Lester sibling, Harry, beginning when he rescues two beautiful ladies from an overturned coach.
The reason given for the turnround in the Lester fortunes in all three books is rather anachronistic: it is based on the success of an investment in shipping, and the ton, as high society was named, looked down on those whose income came from "trade" e.g. anything other than owning land. A noble family like the Lesters would generally be ashamed to own wealth which came from shipping. Having said that, it is true that when even the most haughty families were desperately short of cash they were known to bend those scruples.
Overall this is a reasonably entertaining story. And if you do enjoy this book or the subsequent Lester novels, you will certainly enjoy "A comfortable wife" which is the most amusing of the four books in the series.
Incidentally there is a fourth Lester sibling, Gerald, who in "An unwilling conquest" appeared to be romantically interested the lady who Harry doesn't marry in that story. However, he had not got round to proposing to her by the end of the book. So at some stage we may get a fifth novel in this mini-series featuring Gerald and either completing the romance he begins in this book or starting one with some other lady.