Review: How to Manage a Marquess (Spinster House #2) by Sally MacKenzie

April 28, 2016 Review 1

Review: How to Manage a Marquess (Spinster House #2) by Sally MacKenzie

Two possible futures loom before Miss Anne Davenport. The first option: sharing an unhappy home with her father and soon-to-be stepmother. The second: a life of independence at the Spinster House--if only her friend, Cat, would vacate the premises and marry the Duke of Hart. A well-placed whisper about the pair's secret tryst might speed the course of true love. But the duke's stubborn cousin poses an obstacle. A ridiculously handsome, very persuasive obstacle…

Nate, Marquess of Haywood, has spent his life looking out for the duke, hoping to stave off a family curse. The only way to keep his cousin alive is to keep him single. That means convincing the intriguing Miss Davenport that her lovely lips could be put to far better use than gossiping. Kissing, for instance. In fact, Nate is beginning to hope that Miss Davenport's destiny lies not in the Spinster House at all, but with him …

Title: How to Manage a Marquess (Spinster House #2)
Author: Sally MacKenzie
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Loving Lord Ash
Series: Spinster House #2
Length: 9:36
Published by Zebra
Source: Publisher
Published: April 26, 2016
Genres: Regency Romance
Pages: 352
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Amazon
Visit the Author's Website
Visit the Goodreads Series Page

Stars: four-stars
Flames: three-half-flames
I received this book for free from the Publisher or Author in exchange for an honest review, or I purchased it with my own funds. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
300 Review
Spinster House

This is my first Sally MacKenzie book, but it certainly won’t be my last! This book had it all – humor, snark, pride, groveling, and lots of sweet moments. I fell in love with Nate right alongside Anne…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

While this is part of a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Nate, Marquess of Haywood, made a promise to his mother that he would ensure Marcus, Duke of Hart, would not marry. The curse of Marcus’s line ensures that the Duke will die before he ever sees his heir – and Nate and Marcus are best friends. Nate’s more than a bit overbearing, but it’s done out of love and fear of losing him.

Anne Davenport’s father is remarrying – and the woman is a widow, a year younger than Anne, with two sons. Anne expects to be cast out, and she dreads the day. She doesn’t want to marry – she’s never met anyone she has remote interest in doing so – and so she throws her name into the Spinster House lottery.

Whomever wins that lottery is a very lucky woman who will be set up for life, with lodgings and money – meaning she’ll never have to rely on a husband or male relative. The premise is one that many women would’ve loved to be part of in regency England, and our heroine, Anne, is definitely one who needs it.

Marcus has fallen in love with a woman named Cat – Anne’s best friend, and also another woman in the running for the Spinster House. And while Anne does love Cat, she knows that if she doesn’t get the Spinster House, she’ll be miserable living with a woman who very much doesn’t want her around and a father who once loved her above all else, but now has little room in his heart for her (so she feels).

Nate and Anne are working against each other, but they are thrown together in some fun ways that are unexpected and heartwarming. Watching the two of them first lust after, then respect, then fall in love with the other was wonderful. The story didn’t feel rushed or drawn out, and I enjoyed the characters very much.

However…Ms. MacKenzie did set up some rather nasty players. Jane, the only other woman in the running for the Spinster House, seems petty, mean, and outright snobby. She seems to have a connection with one of Nate’s friends, who was kind, a tease, affable – Jane’s polar opposite. I’ll be interested to see how that one plays out, and how the author redeems Jane. Also, the woman who marries Anne’s father is awful. Yeah, she has a sad backstory. But she rubbed me in all the wrong ways, even if Anne eventually accepted her (she had to be…I mean, the woman was marrying her father!).

Pick this one up – it’s light-hearted, it’s fun, and it’s emotionally satisfying.


Avon Romance

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Author InfoSpinster House

A native of Washington, DC, Sally MacKenzie still lives in suburban Maryland with her transplanted upstate New Yorker husband. She’s written federal regulations, school newsletters, auction programs, class plays, and swim league guidance, but it wasn’t until the first of her four sons headed off to college that she tried her hand at romance. She can be reached by e-mail at Please visit her home in cyberspace at

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Three winners to receive a print copy of WHAT TO DO WITH A DUKE (Book 1) and HOW TO MANAGE A MARQUESS (Book 2))

Avon Romance


Haywood Castle, 1797

Ten-year-old Nate stopped with his hand on the library door.

“I just got word from Wilkinson,” he heard his father, the Marquess of Haywood, say from inside the room. “The Spinster House spinster has died.”

Something—a book?—slammed into something else. “God’s blood! And now poor Marcus will have to choose the new spinster. Oh, how I hate Isabelle Dorring. I hope she’s burning in hell.”

Nate gasped. His mother never talked that way.

His parents must have heard him, because the door swung open.

“Nate! What are you doing lurking there?” Father asked.

“I-I left a book in the library, Father.” Nate swallowed. His cousin Marcus lived with them because Marcus’s father had died from Isabelle Dorring’s curse. “Is Marcus all right?”

Father smiled, putting a comforting hand on Nate’s shoulder. “Of course he is. He just has to go to Loves Bridge and choose a new tenant for the Spinster House, that’s all.”

Nate didn’t like that. His mother had told him many, many times how her father and Marcus’s father, how all the Dukes of Hart since the third duke, had died before their heirs were born, all because Isabelle Dorring had cursed their line. He was certain Isabelle was an evil old ghost, haunting the Spinster House.

“Can I come, too?” He was two weeks older than Marcus. He was used to watching out for his cousin.

Father’s smile widened. “That would be splendid, Nate. I’m sure Marcus will be happier with you there.” He looked at Mum and said, with false enthusiasm, “We can make an outing of it.”

Mum frowned and shook her head. “No. No, I wish I could go with you. You know I do. But I can’t bear that place.” She came over to hug Nate. “Keep Marcus safe for me, Natey.”

Mum always said that. And Nate answered the way he always did.

“Of course I will, Mum.”

Haywood Castle, 1808, eleven years later

Nate sat by his mother’s bed, heart heavy. His father had died the month before; he was afraid his mother was dying now. It was as if she’d lost all desire to live in a world that did not include her Philip. Still, he hadn’t thought she’d fade this quickly. She’d been fine—well, sad, but still alert—last night. This morning, however . . .

She was so pale and shrunken. She’d been in and out of consciousness ever since her maid had called him to her bedside an hour ago.

He frowned. Marcus would want to be here. He’d sent word to London, but it was unlikely his cousin would arrive in time. Mum’s breathing was so labored—

Her eyes flew open. “Gerald,” she croaked, mistaking him for her long-dead brother.

“It’s Nate, Mum.” He leaned close so she could see his face. “Do you want a sip of water?”

“Nate! She grabbed his hand, ignoring his offer. “Nate.” She swallowed. “Keep Marcus safe.”

He patted her fingers to calm her, swallowing his brief annoyance that she was using her last breaths to talk about his cousin rather than him. “I will, Mum. You know I will.”

“I couldn’t”—she struggled for air. “I couldn’t keep Gerald safe.”

She was too agitated. He needed to calm her, but how?

He hated feeling so helpless.

“It’s all right, Mum.”

She acted as if she hadn’t heard him. “If I hadn’t been so selfish . . . if I hadn’t married Philip . . .”

“But you loved Father.” He’d never doubted that. His friends’ parents might have taken lovers, but not his. Their dedication to each other had been as much a constant in his life as the sun rising.

Her head moved fretfully on the pillow. “Yes, but Philip could have married anyone. Gerald had only me.” Her hold tightened, her nails digging into his skin. “Keep Marcus safe for me, Natey.”

“Of course I will, Mum.” The words flowed from long practice.

“The curse . . . it will get stronger. When Marcus turns thirty, you’ll have to watch him very, very closely.” She tried to sit up.

He pressed her gently back against the pillows. “Perhaps Marcus will fall in love, Mum,” he said soothingly, “and break the curse.”

For a woman who appeared to be on the verge of death, her grip was like iron. “No, he won’t.”

“But he might, Mum.” Love matches weren’t common among the ton, but they did happen. “He’s only twenty-one. He’s got time. And when he does find a girl to love, the curse will end. It will all be over.”

“No!” Her fingers convulsed, her eyes boring into his, a wild desperation in their depths. “Don’t you see? The curse can’t be broken.”

“Of course it can. If a Duke of Hart marries for love—”

Her face twisted. “That’s a lie. My father loved my mother. I know he did. And he still died.”

Mum had never said this before. She must be confused. It wouldn’t be surprising. No matter how strongly one believed in an afterlife, facing death must be terrifying.

And if love wouldn’t break the curse, Marcus was condemned to a long, lonely life.

Well, not a long life.

Nate made soothing noises. He didn’t know what else to do.

“Promise me—” Mum gasped for air. “Promise me you’ll keep Marcus safe”—she swallowed—“for as long as you can. Even if you have to put off marrying yourself. Nothing is more important than Marcus’s safety, Nate.”

Poor Mum. He would promise her anything if it would ease her passing.

He struggled to speak calmly. “Yes, Mum. Don’t worry. I’ll watch over Marcus. I swear I will.”

At last the stiff fear drained from her face. She let go of his hand, giving him a sweet smile. “You’re such a good boy, Natey. I know you’ll keep your word.”

And then she lay back, her eyes drifting closed. A look of peace flitted over her face just before the last bit of color left it.

His mother was dead.


One Response to “Review: How to Manage a Marquess (Spinster House #2) by Sally MacKenzie”

  1. Crystal, Tasty Book Tours

    Great review! Thank you for hosting MANAGE A MARQUESS today!