Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex

mad about the marquess

Grade: A

Doing it at: 93%

Catnip: Kilts, Red Hot Banter, Deep Dark Secrets, Wed Before Bed, Hate to Love You, Lords and Ladies, CoHo Exception, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead

Shame Scale: Very low, this one is pretty friendly for reading in Dr’s offices, kindergarten classrooms (well, not aloud), and public transport vehicles

Fantasy Cast:  This mystery ginger, Camilla Luddington

Book Description:


Lady Quince Winthrop has been robbing from society’s rich and giving to Edinburgh’s poor for years. But everything changes the day she can’t resist the temptation to steal from the Marquess of Cairn.


Alasdair, Marquess of Cairn, has come back to Scotland to stop a thief, never thinking that the lass he’s trying to woo is about to give a lesson in larceny he won’t be able to forget. From the twisted streets of Auld Reeky, to the hills of the highlands, Quince leads Alasdair on a merry chase, and finds the one man she shouldn’t fall for, is the one man she can’t resist.


I spent most of this spring in a very serious reading slump, maybe the worst slump of my whole reading life (approaching the 30 year mark), and I was starting to think I would never ever break out of it. I wasn’t reading, so I wasn’t blogging, and Mary was getting real tired of my shit. LUCKILY I have since recovered, and been blessed with a streak of exemplary reads. Including Mad About the Marquess, one of the most charming historicals I’ve ever read.

First things first: the banter in this book is A +, I could. not. stop. highlighting passages as I sped through this one on my Kindle:

“Waking you up.” Quince felt her face split into a wide, unbridled grin — he hadn’t even bothered to ask who it was.

“I wasn’t asleep.”

“How obliging of you.” She cupped her hands around her mouth to project her voice upward. “Come down.”

“I’m naked. And wet.”

“How very obliging of you.”

Quince is a nice young girl from a good family, on the surface, anyway. In reality she’s a bit of a klepto with a Robin Hood complex, and too much nerve for her own good. Strathcairn is the young lord who used to date her older sister, who is reformed from his former impetuous ways. Quince has been stealing small things to feed the church donation box for months, and unbeknownst to her someone has come to town to investigate.

If she’d known the shiny silver buttons on the red velvet coat were Strathcairn’s, or that he was here to catch the thief, she would never have sliced the buttons off and shoved them down her bodice. She wouldn’t have let him trap her alone in a small dark room, or asked him to give her kissing lessons. If she’d known.

Alasdair Strathcairn has spent five years overcoming a scandal in his past, and trying to earn his place as the Marquess of his ancestral estate. Kissing wee Quince Winthrop in a closet is not on his to-do list either, but he finds her too adorable and intriguing to stay away from.  And for Quince, who is addicted to the thrill of danger and schemes, being with Strathcairn is like quicksilver in her blood.

He sucked in a hiss of air. “Devil take me. You do ken what you’re doing.”

“I do,” she assured him. “I’ve always been prodigiously curious.” And never more so than at this moment. His flesh was soft and amazingly hard all at the same time. Curious indeed. “And I have been prodigiously curious about your cock.”

It is part daring, part stupidity, and part the nagging of an overly pious (and odious) Parrish priest that leads Quince to decide to take up literal highway robbery to help feed the poor flooding into her little Scottish town. If her illicit thrills can benefit the needy, and she’s only holding incredibly rich carriage goers at pistol-point, then Quince figures the good outweighs the bad. The problem is that Strathcairn doesn’t know who is committing these crimes, but he’s pledged to find out.

Which is how things spiral delightfully out of control.

I’d recommend Mad About the Marquess to romance readers who profess to not like historicals, this one feels modern. Quince is not a shy, retiring, virginal flower –she’s a bold, sassy, virginal flower– whose older sisters have told her a lot about what happens in the marriage bed. Strathcairn respects her as much as he loves her, he wants her to be his wife even when he isn’t sure he can trust and forgive her. He’s still respectful and doesn’t mansplain or talk down — in  lot of the older historicals that can be a big stumbling block for readers.

A single caveat, I had to invoke the CoHo inception for this one, the sex was so late in coming that I started to think it wouldn’t come. And I was ok with that. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS ONE WAS. It made me love a book that might not have the D. The ginger D in this case. Quince spends a lot of time talking about his lovely russet hair, and Strathcairn is enraptured by her wee magnificent breasts. And I was thoroughly charmed.

Read this one guys, and join me in eagerly waiting for her next one: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Marry! Squee! Makes me think Ms. Essex is either a fan of this blog or a fan of my beloved Again With This podcast. I will keep linking to it forever, or until it’s as popular as Serial. And I will hope that book has lots of thinly veiled Dylan Mckay references, because, hey, McKay is a Scottish name!

Check it out:

Amazon • iBooks

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