Bereft of beauty as well as fortune, the exceedingly plain Miss Jane Featherstone has failed to attract any suitor during her three Seasons. Rather than be a burden to her brother and his obnoxious wife, Miss Featherstone vows to accept the first man who asks—even though she’s always worshipped a lord who’s far above her touch. . . Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone’s help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she’s doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he’s with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What’s a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?
Lord Slade, Sinjin to his friends, will do anything for his family, including sacrifice his future happiness to fulfill a deathbed promise to his father. Though he carries the fancy title and is a revered member of the government, Lord Slade isn’t a wealthy man, and fulfilling the promise he made to his father is going to take an exorbitant amount of money. With that in mind, Lord Slade sadly decides, he is only going to be able to fulfill his promise if he marries an incredibly wealthy woman whether he loves her or not. Marrying well means not only fulfilling his promise to his father, but providing well for his younger sisters, and ensuring a proper dowry for their future.
Trouble is, Lord Slade has already met the woman he is quite taken with, could very easily love and spend his life with, but she has even less than he.
Jane Featherstone has long admired Lord Slade and the good work he has done in government. He is kind, caring, dedicated to helping those less fortunate than he, and intelligent. Jane couldn’t care less about his title or lack of money, she simply enjoys Lord Slade’s company, the stimulating conversation, and commitment to causes greater than themselves. Jane Featherstone could easily love Lord Slade, happily spend the rest of her life with him, but without a fortune and her self-described unspectacular good looks, she knows she isn’t the woman for him.
As one might well expect, when you try to fight fate, fate takes offense and finds ways to fight back. As it happens, Jane and Lord Slade keep getting thrown together which only makes their mutual feelings for one another intensify. To combat the feelings, and in a misguided effort to “do the right thing,” each publicly encourages the other towards alternate romantic entanglements. Jane’s goal is to attach Lord Slade to her extremely wealthy and beautiful cousin, and Lord Slade is working awfully hard to hide his feelings about the odious man Jane has attached herself to.
The Bottom Line: Though not quite as exciting as book one in the series, The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane is still an endearing read with a cast of familiar and fine characters. Of all the cast, Jane is by far my favorite with her strength, intelligence, and willingness to dive in and accept any challenge. Unlike so many of the women of her time and place, Jane uses her head, not her looks, and that always makes for an excellent character for me. As for Lord Slade, he is quite the likeable character, but I tended to feel sorry for him along the way. That is, until the moment he finally pulls his head out and takes charge of his life, his future, and his happiness. As so often happens with Cheryl Bolen’s books, everything works out exactly as it is meant to, and that it one of the primary reasons I so enjoy her books!