Review of WHO WILL TAKE THIS MAN? by Jacquie D'Alessandro (see her website)
Avon, October 2003
It wasn't easy, but marriage broker Meredith Chilton-Grizedale has found the perfect bride for Lord Philip Whitmore, Viscount Greybourne. But when his story about a curse breaks the engagement, Meredith sees her business prospects fading quickly. As she works with Philip to break the curse, she finds that her own heart is breaking because there's nothing she'd like so much as to be his bride--and that will forever be an impossible dream.
Philip has spent the previous decade on the continent, exploring Egypt, Syria, and Italy and sending home crates of treasure to add to the wealth of the British Museum. When he learns that his father is dying, he hurries home to live up to his promise to marry, but it doesn't take long for him to decide he wants the pretty marriage broker rather than any of the rich aristocrats she parades in front of her. But Philip doesn't dare risk Meredith until he can break the curse--and then there's the matter of someone who seems bent on destroying Philip and everyone he loves.
Author Jacquie D'Alessandro adds a bit of Egyptian magic to the familiar romance device of the matchmaker falling in love with her subject. In general, her writing is strong and sensual, with the sexual tension running strong between the characters and a convincing motivation (the curse) for why they could never get together. I found the secondary romance between two of Meredith's strays to be a bit of a distraction but many romance fans will find that this adds to the romantic texture.
For me, one of the pleasures of reading historical romance is picking up the tidbits of research the authors did before writing. In WHO WILL TAKE THIS MAN, though, I found anachronism instead. Naming countries that don't exist yet (e.g., Turkey) is not really a serious problem. More offputting, for me, was the curse itself. If it was in hieroglyphics, how could it have tailed off in mid-word? Especially in the middle of an English word ('lo...'). These details don't detract from the romance but they do tend to pull the reader out of the story.
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