Review: How to Best a Marquess (The Widow Rules #3) by Janna MacGregor


Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: St.Martin's Press (April 25, 2023)

From Beth Howell needs to find her dowry, post haste. After her good-for-nothing first husband married her―and two other women, unbeknownst to them all―she’s left financially ruined and relegated to living with her brother, who cares more for his horses than he does his blood relatives. If Beth fails to acquire her funds, her brother will force her to marry someone fifty years her senior and missing half his teeth. She’d prefer to avoid that dreadful fate. But her now-deceased husband, Meri, absconded with her money mere days after their illegitimate marriage. To find it, Beth will have to leave town and retrace Meri’s steps if she’s to take her future into her own hands.

Julian Raleah, Marquess of Grayson, cares not a whit for social norms and generally growls at anyone in his path. Grayson has had a heart of stone ever since his engagement to Beth Howell went down in flames―long before she married that cad, Meri, and sealed her own fate for good. But now she’s on his doorstep, asking for use of his carriage and accompaniment on the hunt to find her lost dowry. Surely Grayson cannot go on the road with the woman who has occupied his thoughts for the past decade. Yet, knowing she needs him, how can he resist helping her this one last time? And maybe that’s just enough time to change the ending to their over-too-soon love story.


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

I am usually a sucker for a good second-chance romance, but sadly, I just couldn't get into this one, no matter how hard I tried. In fact, after having to put it down and come back to it numerous times, I almost gave up on it entirely, but I was hoping that it would redeem itself in the end. 

Beth was a very hard character to like. I mean, I get it - your first husband was an absolute jerk, and your brother is a scoundrel who would see you married off for his own benefit a second time, but I really needed her to have more of a backbone than she did. She had income from working, and no, it wasn't a fortune; she was not as destitute as she made herself believe. She was also very hot and cold with Grayson (coming on to him, kissing him, and propositioning him one minute, then getting mad when he spoke of feelings and wanting to marry in the future). Even after he explains that it would not be fair to his future wife to have an affair with her and then see her again in the future, and she agrees, she still tempts him to kiss her and more. 

At one point, she and Gayson are held at gunpoint and robbed of everything (including most of their clothing and their shoes), yet when they get to town, and Grayson mentions calling for the magistrate to prosecute the ruffian, Beth talks him out of it? Because sometimes people go through hard times? I'm sorry, what? He pointed a loaded gun at you and robbed you, and your solution is to let him go? 

I also found myself not really caring about either of them as a couple because, honestly? They brought most of their troubles on themselves for not just opening their mouths and telling the other what was on their mind. For example, Grayson explains what happened in the past to Beth, and then pours his heart out to her. She simply tells him that she needs time so he leaves her to her thoughts. Which of course, are about him and how much she loves him. But even knowing that, she keeps throwing up the past and using that as an excuse. Or saying she doesn't want to lose his friendship. It became tiresome very quickly, and sadly this theme just kept repeating itself throughout the entirety of the book. Sadly, by the time their happily ever after does come around, I didn't care if they ended up together or not. 

That was another thing about this novel, the way these two just took themselves off across the country, staying in the same rooms at inns without a thought or care for their reputations. For someone who needed investors in order to make his dreams a reality, Grayson certainly didn't seem to consider what they might think about him being with an unmarried woman (especially considering her scandalous reputation of being the third wife of a trigamist), unchaperoned. Especially when there were people who saw them together twice, who would certainly talk about what they had seen. It was like they just didn't care how their actions would be perceived.

The third and final nail in this story, for me anyway, was the way that at the end of the book all three wives just seem to forgive their first husband for all of the hell he put them through in a way that just seemed too extravagant (and I don't care how he supposedly made up for his wrongdoings monetarily). While I would read more from this author in the future, I am glad this particular series is over. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                  How to Best a Marquess  is available on

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