"A Love By Design" Is The Perfect Fit For The "Fight For Your Rights" Romantic

Title:  A Love By Design 
Series:  The Secret Scientists Of London #3
Author:  Elizabeth Everett 
Length:  336 pages
Format:  ERC
Publisher:  Berkley Books 
Rating:  4 Stars

You couldn't design a better hero than the very eligible and extremely charming Earl Grantham. Unless, of course, you are Margaret Gault, who wants nothing to do with the man who broke her youthful heart.

Widowed and determined, Margaret Gault has returned to Athena's Retreat and the welcoming arms of her fellow secret scientists with an ambitious plan in mind: to establish England's first woman-owned engineering firm. But from the moment she sets foot in London her plans are threatened by greedy investors and--at literally every turn--the irritatingly attractive Earl Grantham, a man she can never forgive.

George Willis, the Earl Grantham, is thrilled that the woman he has loved since childhood has returned to London. Not as thrilling, however, is her decision to undertake an engineering commission from his political archnemesis. When Margaret's future and Grantham's parliamentary reforms come into conflict, Grantham must use every ounce of charm he possesses--along with his stunning good looks and flawless physique, of course--to win Margaret over to his cause.

Facing obstacles seemingly too large to dismantle, will Grantham and Margaret remain forever disconnected or can they find a way to bridge their differences, rekindle the passion of their youth, and construct a love built to last?

Please enjoy this excerpt from
A Love By Design
Elizabeth Everett 
GRASS THINNED BENEATH the willows, giving way to patches of cool, hard earth. The scent of wet stone itched the inside of Georgie’s nose as he made his way to the streambank. Black water rushed toward a distant outlet and giggled against the silent rocks. A rare contentment settled in his chest. Pushing aside the curtain of willow branches, Georgie paused. Below the chimes of the stream’s rapids came a low, snuffling noise. He knew that sound. Disappointment washed through him. Someone had breached his refuge and the excitement of the morning was lost now. For a moment, he considered finding another place downstream where he could be alone. When the sound came again, Georgie rolled his eyes up to heaven and shook himself all over, like a dog shaking off the wet, ridding himself of his frustration. Small for his eight years and good with neither letters nor numbers, yet already George Willis knew when a woman was crying, a man was generally the cause of it. Huddled in the nest of interlaced roots at the bottom of the tree, a scrawny lass in a sky blue frock lifted her head and peered at him. Her fiery red hair had been plaited and hung limply over one shoulder, crimson splotches around her eyes, nose, and mouth contrasting with the milky whiteness of her skin. “Hullo. Broken heart, izzit?”he asked, letting the branches fall behind him as he walked under the dome of the great willow. “A broken heart? Don’t be stupid,”the lass said with the ladle-like dip of a well-heeled accent. “Are you lost?”he asked. The girl couldn’t be from the village with that accent. Pulling a lace-trimmed handkerchief from a pocket in her pretty half apron, she blew her nose, honking like an angry goose. “No. I’m a guest at Grange Abbey.”Folding her handkerchief, she finally stared him straight on, scrutinizing him with a mixture of interest and distaste. Ah. That made sense. The stream lay on the border of the Viscount Grange’s vast estates. The viscount had four daughters—could have been five. They were loud and constantly moving so Georgie had a difficult time telling them apart except the oldest, Violet, who was his same age and obviously up to no good. He liked her. If this girl were a guest, why wasn’t she at the Abbey with the rest of the family? He’d glimpsed them playing pall-mall in the garden, the youngest girls lisping their displeasure at having to hit the balls with their mallets and not one another. Perhaps she was a poor relation like Mam had been before his father put a baby in her belly and had to marry her. Maybe she was like the girls in the stories Mam told him, the ones down on their luck until a handsome prince showed up to rescue them. That was ripper, then. He’d save her, wouldn’t he, then on to some fishing. “Hungry?”he asked. “I’ve some tommy I can share with you.”She turned her cherry red nose up at his overture, but Georgie didn’t take any offense. Instead, he clambered over to the pile of rocks where she sat and squatted, unwrapping the bundle the Abbey’s cook had given him. A gorgeous aroma of yeast and wheat had him near fainting with pleasure. He’d been at the estate asking for work. His father had been gone for months now and what coin his mam brought in with her lace could not keep them fed and clothed for much longer. Although his father disavowed them most times, Georgie’s mam swore they had been married before he was born. Most of the villagers didn’t believe her but they were kind to her just the same. Georgie tolerated her trying to raise him like a gentleman’s son, but his empty belly and threadbare clothes had finally convinced her to leave off with lessons and let him earn some coin on his own. With great reluctance, Georgie kept himself from yothering the rest of the bread. He would save it for supper and let Mam have the last of the stew. The gardener had given him a job starting tomorrow including a penny as footing. Georgie would be the man of the house from now on and his mam would never have to suffer his father’s wrath again. To distract himself from the gnawing in his belly, George inspected the lass more closely. Her frock was clean, and she wore real kidskin boots, but her collar needed mending, the boots were dirty, and a faded and frayed ribbon pulled back her hair. “Was Miss Grange cruel to you?”he guessed. “No.”The girl rested her chin on her knees. “Not Miss Grange. She’s not cruel, a’tall.”“Witch locked you in a tower and you’ve gone an’escaped?”he guessed. The lass snorted in derision. Hmmm. “Suffering a curse?”“Don’t be daft. I’m not cursed,”she exclaimed. “I’m not . . .”She swallowed, then fixed her gaze on the water. “I’m not anything special.”Georgie’s good humor deserted him as she curled into a secret. This was his private space she’d invaded for no good reason as far as he could see. He’d come here to celebrate his good fortune, to throw stones at things and avoid going home to his mam’s worried sighs and the slate board that mocked him with its unanswerable questions. No broken heart, money enough for sturdy shoes, and a belly so used to food, she could refuse a slice of delicious bread without a second thought. This lass didn’t need rescuing. He leapt to his feet, fists on hips, and scowled down at her. “If no one was cruel and you’re not lost, why don’t you go home and cry to your mam?”With a guttural roar, she rose to her feet. George had to tilt his head to see the top of her. Lawk, the lass was tall. “Why don’t you shut up?”Later, much later, he claimed the element of surprise sent him falling back onto the hard-packed earth when she punched him in his empty belly. The truth was this girl had the power to bring him to his knees with or without a blow. When he looked at her, she appeared almost ethereal, backlit by the prisms of sun that shone through the diamond-shaped spaces between the willow leaves. Georgie considered for a moment that she might be an escapee from an asylum like he heard tales of from Mrs. Morgan, the postmistress, who read aloud the stories from the broadsheets of London. “You din’t have to kill me,”he complained. “You’re not dead,”she retorted. Being a gentleman, born if not raised, he wasn’t allowed to punch her in return. He stood, brushed off his clothes, and slapped his threadbare cap against his knee, watching her all the time, ready for the next assault. Scowling at him, she crossed her arms and tapped her foot as if her show of ill temper would drive him away. This was his secret spot. He wouldn’t give up his refuge to an interloper, no matter how terrifying. She huffed, staring at the water as though the crisp patter of the stream was a confidence she’d been longing to hear. “I apologize,”she muttered. “I have a most unladylike temper.”As well as a most unladylike left hook. He left that part unsaid. Apologies could be more difficult to part with than coin. A linnet serenaded them from the other side of the stream and Georgie lifted his face to the early May sunshine. “Is your mam dead?”he asked. With a sharp intake of breath, she pulled her hands into fists and he braced for another attack. “No, but I wish she were,”the lass said boldly as if daring Georgie to condemn her. For wasn’t that the worst thing you could say? He came to stand next to her, pretending to stare at the water as well. The skirts of the willow behind them billowed protectively around their bodies as they stood in silent communion. “I wish my father were dead as well.”For the first time, he said aloud the words in his heart. The stream took their secrets on its way and the side of her arm brushed his shoulder. A skitter of odd sparks followed the touch. Open and closed, her fingers curled around invisible balls until she stooped and grabbed a handful of rocks. “Can you hit that tree over there?”she asked. Not looking at him, she held the rocks out in her open palm. An offering of solidarity. Surreptitiously rubbing the ache where she’d punched him, he took a rock. The linnet’s song and the plunk of stones falling into the water filled the silence between them that day as Georgie Willis fell irrevocably in love with Maggie Strong.

My Thoughts 
This third offering  in the Secret Scientists Of London series.
Is, in a word...captivating. 
There is the "lost love found" story of Gorgie and Maggie.
Who were as idealistic youths all set to run away together.  She following him into his chosen career of military service.  Or "following the drum," as a military wife.  Until some harsh words and a fateful decision on his part changes the trajectory of both their lives forever. 
Sending him into the service as planned. 
But his lady love a world away to Paris, a marriage to another man, and a life as a respected engineer.

But now it seems that things have changed for these two most star-crossed of lovers.
As he is now Earl of Grantham.
And she is now the widow Gault. 
Back in London determined to build her own engineering firm, and rebuild her life.
But it seems that the male dominated work place and society are a lot less ready for a woman engineer than she is to take both by storm.
But her completion of a secret and very daunting project could change everything. Or be the key to her forever ruination. 
It's a good thing that she can rely on George and all the memories and longings that he inspires to destruction her when the going gets misogynistic.
Needless to say, this book will set any blue-stocking, feminist,  woman forward reader's heart pitter pattering.
If for no other reason than the way that the social constraints and obstacles make the romance.
With George's dogged support being the cornerstone of Margaret's success. 
And her achievements being the one thing assured to heal his heart.
This is a bit of a slow burn writing wise. But the story does find its feet quite well by the third chapter.
The romantic heat is a moderate one.  Playing nicely with social commentary and character conflict. For a very mature and well rounded read on the whole. 
It must be said that at the time of this review. I have not had the pleasure of reading the previous two books in the series. So all opinions are based solely on this story. 

Working girls, reclaimed hearts, social change and romance.
Signed sealed and delivered with unmistakable flair and panache. 
Yes please. 
A Love By Design is and will always be the perfect fit.

Reviewer's Note:
This review is based on a copy of the above referenced work provided by Netgalley and Berkley. 
All opinions expressed are my own.

About Elizabeth 

Elizabeth Everett lives in upstate New York with her family. She likes going for long walks or (very) short runs to nearby sites that figure prominently in the history of civil rights and women's suffrage.

Her Secret Scientists of London series is inspired by her admiration for rule breakers and belief in the power of love to change the world.

Head over to Elizabeth's website and subscribe to The Rule Breaker's Report for the latest news on The Secret Scientists of London series, exclusive excerpts from Elizabeth's books, giveaways, and much more! 

Buy The Book Here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. I love comments, so please leave a few.