This is the book I choose strictly by cover. I find that for the most part, choosing by cover really doesn't steer me wrong. This one had some good qualities and some super annoying ones, but overall was an ok romance.
Tom Poole is a self made man. He found success in the gold mines of Australia and is now back in London to visit his sister. He meets Margaret at her engagement party to another rich society gentleman and is immediately struck dumb by her presence. When that engagement falls through, he's in the right place to step in and offer his arm in a marriage of convenience. (As it turns out, both Margaret and the ex-finance are only playing at being rich, and are each marrying each other for their money, that neither has, so this works fine for me.)
The plot on this one worked well for me. I was able to believe in the situation and see how these too people happened to be together. (Too often in romance they are together in a time and place that doesn't fit the setting, for example a titled man spending all his time with a governess.) Tom is rough around the edges, since he wasn't raised with polite rules and manners of society. He often has a hard time behaving correctly, and it comes off as pretty charming. He has a bit of a problem with his temper tho, and rather than being a integral fault he needed to overcome, it really just came across as something the author added to make him "interesting." (I've written about this type of thing before, it annoys me.) Margaret is pretty rigid. She's been working on saving her family estate from debtors since she took over and is legitimately stressed to her breaking point. I can understand where a lot of her motivation and reserve comes from, she literally can not afford to make a mistake. Individually I found them both to be fairly true to their character, and not interchangeable with other romance novel heroes/heroines.
These strongly written characters lose some of the appeal when Delamere puts them together. Tom is so patronizing of Margaret, despite the fact that she has managed to masquerade as the season's wealthiest heiress for years. He steps in, and takes over. He speaks to her in ways that would have me walking out, keeping secrets that might be other people's secrets (his sister has an entire backstory in book one that is a vital part of this book, it's annoying to be so intertwined) but that have a direct effect on his marriage. When they ultimately clash over this, I had a hard time rooting for a reunion. Ultimately they do reunite, of course, but I kind of felt that the groveling was backwards. Regardless, they do have a lovely reunion and the book ends with a happily ever after.
One final note, this is a Christian romance. I was unaware of this when I requested it, but probably would have done so anyway. Tom is new Christian, and is constantly turning to God in prayer, and Margaret is not a Christian at all, and is slightly bemused by his antics. Overall, it wasn't overwhelming but there were a few scenes where it felt awkwardly written in. This is my first Christian romance tho, so I have nothing to compare this aspect to. That said, there is very little in the way of sex, and none of it graphic, and any lust is immediately suppressed. I don't require sex scenes to enjoy a romance novel, but I do love the tension and heat as characters get to know each other. What little of that is in this one is turned away from before it can develop, and I found that disappointing.
A Lady Most Lovely was published on September 24th, and my thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read it.