THE HEIRESS HUNT - Joanna Shupe
New York City and Newport, Rhode Island - 1895
Harrison Archer is back home again after three years in Paris. His father died eight months ago, and the family company is on the verge of collapse under the control of his older brother, Thomas. But Harrison is not in New York City to rescue the business, or to have a warm family reunion. After he caught his father molesting a family maid and calling the police on him, Harrison was disowned and kicked out of the house. He ended up in Paris where he studied and began planning his revenge. Now, wealthy and confident, Harrison is home to deal the death blow to the family business. First, however, he will pretend to be the caring brother. His mother and brother want him to marry an heiress to save the company and keep the family within New York society. Harrison is ready and willing, but only has his eye on one particular heiress.
Maddie Webster has been moving up the ranks as a tennis professional and is due to participate in her most important match ever, the U.S. National Championships. After getting her parents to agree to let her concentrate on her tennis game for three seasons, she promises to marry once she accomplishes her goal. The Duke of Lockwood has been wooing her for her dowry as his dukedom is in dire need of cash. But now Harrison Archer is back in town, and after meeting with him, she has agreed to plan a party in Newport to help him find an heiress. She and Harrison grew up together, had lots of adventures together, and she was terribly hurt when he suddenly disappeared three years ago. As much as it hurts her to think of him with another woman, Maddie doesn't want him to marry the wrong one.
Summer is when the Newport Season is at its height. It's when all of the great families from New York descend into the city to open up their "cottages". Sailing, tennis, gambling at the Casino, and partying until the early morning hours are all on the daily menus. Harrison and his friend, Kit, are settled in at the Webster's chateau, watching the numerous young ladies that Maddie invited wander the beautifully manicured grounds. But Harrison is looking at only one. Despite the Duke of Lockwood's sudden unexpected appearance, Harrison is sure he can win.
THE HEIRESS HUNT for Harrison is one goal, but he is also determined to destroy Archer Industries. Traveling to Newport hopefully will satisfy the first goal, but Harrison is disturbed by the duke's arrival and his actions. How can he win Maddie's heart? As for Maddie, she is still hurt by Harrison's abrupt departure three years earlier. Can she ignore Harrison for the chance of being a duchess?
A very enjoyable, and, at times, heartbreaking tale set during the Gilded Age with two lead characters who struggle with their feelings not only for each other, but for the future. THE HEIRESS HUNT is an excellent read.