Manor for Sale, Baron Included (A Romance of Rank, # 1)
By: Esther Hatch
Publication: February 25th 2021
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--She has everything Lord Farnsworth wants, including his manor.
Lord Farnsworth would rather rot in debtor’s prison than sell the one place that feels like home to him—his mother’s manor. That is, until he meets the woman who wants to buy it. Sally Duncan is beautiful, intelligent, and as rich as a baron—a rich baron, not a cash-strapped one like Lord Farnsworth. She’s the solution to every one of his financial problems and is bewitching to boot. All he needs to do is sell her his beloved manor and then charm her to the altar, and the manor will be his again. Simple, right?
But nothing is simple when Sally starts tearing apart his ancestral home and renovating it in a way no one would consider tasteful. She is wreaking havoc on everything, but he cannot give up on owning his mother’s estate again, nor can he imagine anyone but Sally as his wife.
And so he sticks with his plan.
What a horrible mistake.
I have really become a fan of Esther Hatch. I didn't remember until going back to re-read some of my reviews from 2021 that A Proper Scoundrel made me laugh. That was one of the best things about Manor for Sale, Baron Included. I mean who sells a house and a Baron comes along with it. What's really happening is that Lord Farnsworth just can't bear to let go of the home where he spent the most time with his mother. But the finances he inherited from his father have him in the red and something has got to go. He hatches a scheme to sell the manor and get the lady who buys it to agree to marry him so that he can once again possess the home.
Bless her! Who wouldn't be upset when buying a home and the former owner just won't leave. Sally has her mind set on one thing. She wants to establish a home where her sister Victoria can flourish, unlike the stuffy townhome they all lived in back in London. Victoria is in a wheelchair, so the home Sally purchased will need some renovations to make it accessible for Victoria. Only the former owner just won't go away. Sally taunts him with the changes she plans to make and the two exchange a series of funny gifts.
Johnathan was intrigued by Sally upon their first meeting. Of course, Sally had something that he wanted--his house--but more than that he caught a glimpse of someone he might share his life with. And he goes about pursuing her and that end with fervor. Sally doesn't even see Johnathan as anything but a nuisance until she witnesses his interactions with her sister. And even then, he's still not consciously on her radar romantically. It takes some winning over for her to see otherwise.
This book was funny, but it was deeper and more complex than I expected. Each character has a developed backstory that lends depth to them. Sally is independent. She was chosen by her grandfather to be his heir, a decision her father didn't understand. She wasn't a boy. She doesn't want to be in a position of having her husband disappointed if she only provides daughters instead of heirs. And she wants to see her sister settled and taken care of. Johnathan grew up in a family where his parents were mostly separated after he was born. And he essentially only saw his mother in the winter of each year. He has inherited the barony but it's bleeding money, and he needs to find a way to lower the rent for his tenant farmers, not raise it.
My favorite quotes mostly revolved around the squirrel (IYKYK), but I'll only include two of those:
-And he still hadn't been offered any tea. He had brought her a perfectly good squirrel; the least she could do was offer him some tea.
-The squirrel had been a mistake. Never bring a young woman a squirrel. Young ladies liked flowers and sweetmeats, not wild game.
Manor for Sale, Baron Included was exactly what I've come to expect from Esther Hatch. Delicious. I loved the well-developed characters--even the secondary characters. I rooted for the relationship. I devoured the pages. I laughed and smiled like a lunatic. And I can't wait for more. Manor for Sale, Baron Included gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read Manor for Sale, Baron Included? What did you think? Let me know!