His Reputation Was Abominable...
After years as one of London's most notorious rakes, Alexander Havenhurst, Earl of Foxworth, has decided to settle down. He longs for the sort of storybook marriage his brother enjoys, but his reputation keeps most suitable ladies from taking him seriously. With pride bowing to need, Alex has but one option left--to consult a professional matchmaker who can give him the polish he lacks. And the only matchmaker who will agree to help him is the lovely widow Lady Isabelle Fanshaw, whose sparkling green eyes and ready wit do nothing to help his efforts to reform.
...And Very Tempting
Lady Isabelle has guided many a young lady through the pitfalls of the social season. But how can she tame such a rake as Alex Foxworth, a man with manners more suited to a brothel than the drawing room? When the lout insists that he must flirt with someone, or go mad, Isabelle agrees to let him engage in some harmless repartee with her, as long as he behaves as a perfect gentleman in public. But as an important Christmas house party draws near, Isabelle realizes that her tutoring may be succeeding all too well. For she soon has no desire to see her beloved rake in any woman's arms but her own.
Continuing with my Christmas reading I picked this traditional regency. I had no expectations about it, had never read the author, and while I didn't love it I ended up finding it a pretty decent story.
The hero and the heroine are both widowers. The hero, who after losing his wife had become a sort of a rake, wants to change his ways and find a new wife and settle down. The heroine, having been disowned by her father after her marriage, has supported herself and her young daughter by becoming a companion to young ladies who are to be presented in society. She is a friend of the hero's sister in law and since she is engaged to help his two wards in their coming season Grace suggests that she helps him achieve his goal.
They were both rather likeable characters although the heroine seemed to have an infinite dose of patience to deal with a rude and annoying ward, I kept wishing she would give the girl a set down. Both of them have children although the hero's relationship with his sons is a bit distant and it was nice, since this is a Christmassy read set during a house party, to see the family members interacting with each other and both children and parents worrying about each other and spending time together.
One thing annoyed me though and that's what made me lower the grade a bit. We know the hero is a confirmed rake but since he mentions reforming he really is a nice guy. But even after their feelings are acknowledged the heroine keeps complaining about rakes and how that can't be trusted to change their ways. While I understood she had been hurt by the events of her past her behaviour seemed a bit too much.