A gentleman by any other name is still a gentleman, at least that's what Chance Beckett has been trying to convince himself of these last twelve years and more. Hiding behind his education, his society marriage, fashionable house and prestigious position at the War Office, Chance thought he had succeeded in forgetting his less than savory beginnings. Now a widower, Chance finds himself ill prepared to be a single father and intends to drop off his five-year old daughter Alice with his family and quickly return to his life in London. What Chance doesn't count on is his current nanny refusing to travel to the wilds of Kent or that his superiors insist that he remain in Romney Marsh to ferret out information about the local smuggling. Pressed for time Chance must quickly find a new nanny and he thinks his salvation has come in the guise of Miss Julia Carruthers, acerbic tongue and all. What Chance doesn't count on is his attraction for Julia or the guilt she makes him feel for neglecting Alice.
Julia Carruthers has come to London specifically in answer to Chance's advertisement for a new nanny. Julia is less than pleased by the insulting manner in which Chance speaks to her and even though she desperately needs the money, she is on her way out the door when Alice appears. Once look at the curly blond hair and angelic face and Julia knows she has found her place. After the death of her vicar father, Julia had to leave her village in Kent and she is delighted when Chance tells her they are leaving London for his family's home in Romney Marsh, but the Becketts are not quite the family Julia expected. The Becketts are suspicious of strangers and intent on intimidating the newcomer, but Julia finds herself drawn to them nonetheless.
When Chance arrives at Beckett Hall he discovers that his family is neck deep in smuggling and he finds his loyalty divided between his country and his family. If Chance had known what his family was involved in he never would have brought Alice or Julia to them, but now that he has he realizes that Julia knows far more about smuggling operations than he would have thought and her knowledge is a dangerous thing. In order to protect her Chance lets everyone believe that she is his mistress, which isn't such a hardship after all, as his attraction to her continues to grow.
Julia only needed a position to support herself, she never imagined that she would be caught up in smuggling schemes or find herself hopelessly attracted to her new employer. But as the danger escalates, Julia finds that she cannot live without Chance and she will do whatever she can to protect him, even involve herself in the family's schemes.
Kasey Michaels starts off her new series with a wickedly witty and delightfully fun story of a very unusual family. A Gentleman by Any Other Name introduces her readers to the Becketts of Romney Marsh, the "siblings" all adopted by Ainsley Beckett, a former privateer. Ainsley found Chance, Courtland, Spencer, Rian, Eleanor, Morgan and Fanny at various ages and brought them together to form a family. Like all families they have their differences and it was nice to see that they didn't always co-exist peacefully, but ruly banded together when there was trouble.
Julia was a great heroine. She was strong and brave, and she had no trouble standing up to Chance in defense of Alice or her concerns about the activities in the Marsh. Julia was not raised to be subservient and every time she told Chance what she thought of him, I found myself liking her more and more.
Chance was a complex hero, but also very likeable. He has spent years trying to forget his upbringing before Ainsley bought him and took him in. We never quite learn what happened that made the entire family and Ainsley's crew flee to England – and this is my only real complaint with the book – but it has haunted Chance for years and ruled every aspect of his life. When he realized that none of that mattered to Julia and that with her he was the man he strove so hard to be, he was finally able to reconcile with the family that he truly did miss, and I enjoyed watching his journey to self revelation.
I thoroughly enjoyed A Gentleman by Any Other Name and I am glad that the next two books are coming out in April and May. I only wish that now that we have met such an intriguing family that there would be books for all of them. Pick up your copy of A Gentleman by Any Other Name today and enjoy meeting the Becketts of Romney Marsh.