The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George
The Gilded Age Heiresses Book 3
February 22, 2022, by Berkley
Review by Melanie
The Lady Tempts an Heir, the third and, I’m happy to say, not the last book, in Harper St. George’s The Gilded Age Heiresses series is delightful and charming and sexy, with two incredibly engaging main characters who share loads of chemistry.
If you’ve recently watched and enjoyed The Gilded Age on HBO, this entire series is worth checking into. I’m fascinated by the departure from the regency era to an era where wealthy American families were able to buy their way into British aristocracy, marrying their daughters off to impoverished dukes and earls.
While the first two books in the series focused on the Crenshaw sisters, this third book sets its hook into their brother, the American businessman Maxwell Crenshaw, heir to the Crenshaw business empire, who in the last book found himself reluctantly fascinated by the widowed Lady Helena March as they traversed the English countryside in search of his sister.
Lady Helena March, friend to both Crenshaw sisters, is widowed, wealthy, and adamant that she shall not wed again. She is hardly a lady of leisure, instead choosing to spend her time helping oversee an orphanage and when this book starts, wants to start a new charity helping to house unwed mothers and their children. Unfortunately, the rest of her peers and family don’t see that as a worthy cause appropriate for a lady of her social stature and she’s unable to recruit investors for her cause unless, her father proposes, she decides to marry again and has the benefit of a supportive husband at her side.
Enter Max, who is back in London after his father falls ill. Readers of the first two books will know that the Crenshaw parents are, to put it bluntly, terrible. Both mother and father are social climbers, desperate to gain a foothold in the upper echelons of British society, determined to do whatever it takes, even if it comes at a cost to their 3 children. Having successfully married his eldest daughter off to a Duke and his youngest to an Earl, the senior Crenshaw turns his sights on his only son, the heir to his business, the bearer of the family name, and basically manipulates him into agreeing to find a wife.
And thus begins a fake relationship trope where Helena gets the benefit of Max’s support in getting her new charity underway and Max gets to take the family business in a direction of his (and his sister’s) choosing.
I have to say, I really liked these two characters a lot. They both carry a lot of resentment for their respective fathers but I also like that that’s not the only thing that bonds them. They are naturally attracted to each other and in the course of helping each other gain what each needs out of this fake relationship, they start to develop pesky feelings. Oh, the shock! Who could’ve possibly predicted this?!?
Max falls for Helena’s kindness and compassionate nature and Helena finds herself unable to resist a man who would go to any lengths to protect his sisters. The fact that Max is so unreservedly supportive and encouraging of Helena’s dreams only adds to the attraction.
When the two finally act on their attraction, the sexy times are steamy and it’s very clear that Max is not the refined, genteel, English lord, he’s a bit more rough and earthy and Helena very much likes a bit of roughness. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have minded seeing these particular scenes a bit more expanded but overall, none of this detracts from the overall charm of the story. (Let me be clear, it’s very much an open door scene in terms of the sex).
One of the reasons this book really resonated with me when I finished it is a bit of a spoiler: Helena is reluctant to marry again, especially to someone titled, because she is barren. She was unable to conceive in her first marriage which created distance between her and her husband until his death. She is determined she will not relive that kind of experience ever again. Last year, I read a historical romance where the heroine was barren but the book ended with a miracle pregnancy and I was really concerned that this was where this book was headed as well. However, I love that the book does not end with a miracle baby, it ends with two people coming to terms with the fact they will never have a child biologically and the realization that they can still be happy together. And that is an important perspective to have, that you can achieve a HEA even without a baby. The two are not always designed to go hand in hand and I really appreciate the author not falling into the trap of the miracle pregnancy trope.
One of the other masterful things Harper St. George has done in the course of this entire series is to end each book by laying the groundwork for the couple in the next book. It’s not a huge part of the book, only a tiny part of the epilogue but just riveting enough to keep me waiting eagerly for the next installment of the series.
All in all, I really enjoyed Max and Helena. I liked their playfulness, banter, and heat. And ultimately, I enjoyed watching two people succumb to true love all the while determined to hold their hearts at bay.
Content Notes: Off-page death of first husband from cancer, recollection of sexual assault by first husband, infertility