I buddy read this with Karishma and it was a very satisfying read, reminding me in terms of style of authors such as Meredith Duran, or Lisa Kleypas circa her Gamblers duology. MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU, which is apparently inspired by Little Women according to the author's note, is about a family of sisters who are the daughters of an impoverished lord who spent all of his money on horses. Now all of them are basically penniless, with only racehorses as their dowries. One of the chief complaints of this series is that there are too many characters, but that was what I loved about it. Tess, the main and eldest sister, is so strong and good, and reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Bennett, whereas the youngest sister, Josie, who is nerdy and a bit of a prude, reminded me of Mary. The middle sisters, Annabel and Imogene, are a lot like Kitty and Lydia, respectively, and since Lydia was my least favorite Bennett, it's certainly no shocker that Imogene was my least favorite here - only she is much, much worse than Lydia ever was, in my opinion.
Raised in Scotland and utterly without the fanciful trappings that make women into ladies, the girls find themselves at the mercy of their late-father's acquaintances, particularly Rafe, their new guardian, who is definitely a high-functioning alcoholic. When he first hears of his new charges, he thinks that they're actually children, and they actually walk into the nursery while it's still in the process of being decorated (lol). Tess finds herself engaged before she knows it, but is more attracted to the rakish and brooding Lucius than she is to her husband-to-be, the Earl of Mayne.
I loved the romance between Lucius and Tess. He's the perfect blend of kind and brooding, and a lot like Mr. Darcy. He even saves Imogene from certain ruin the same way Darcy did Lydia - and all for Tess, too. How romantic and kind! Imogene, on the other hand, was the WORST. Lydia was annoying because she was so immature, but Imogene completely blows Lydia Bennett out of the water with her selfishness. I could not believe how she treated Tess at the end of the book, or how Annabel gaslighted Tess into thinking that such abusive behavior was okay. I'm sorry, but you are not allowed to treat your family as emotional whipping boys and girls when you can't deal with your own mistakes in life. That's not how this works, and that's not how anything works. Take several seats.
Apart from that, I loved every second of this romance novel, from the frothy writing, to the snippy humor, to the wide and lovable cast of characters (minus Imogene), to the requisite carriage tupping, to the romance. I don't know why I haven't read anything by this author sooner, but I clearly need to rectify that mistake!
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars