Book Review: A Love by Design by Elizabeth Everett

Posted January 17, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 24 Comments

A Love by Design
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: The Secret Scientists of London #3
by Elizabeth Everett
Publication Date January 17, 2023
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Romance / Historical / General, Fiction / Romance / Historical / Victorian, Fiction / Women
Pages: 352
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

You couldn’t design a better hero than the very eligible and extremely charming Earl Grantham. Unless, of course, you are Margaret Gault, who wants nothing to do with the man who broke her youthful heart.

Widowed and determined, Margaret Gault has returned to Athena’s Retreat and the welcoming arms of her fellow secret scientists with an ambitious plan in mind: to establish England’s first woman-owned engineering firm. But from the moment she sets foot in London her plans are threatened by greedy investors and—at literally every turn—the irritatingly attractive Earl Grantham, a man she can never forgive.

George Willis, the Earl Grantham, is thrilled that the woman he has loved since childhood has returned to London. Not as thrilling, however, is her decision to undertake an engineering commission from his political archnemesis. When Margaret’s future and Grantham’s parliamentary reforms come into conflict, Grantham must use every ounce of charm he possesses—along with his stunning good looks and flawless physique, of course—to win Margaret over to his cause.

Facing obstacles seemingly too large to dismantle, will Grantham and Margaret remain forever disconnected or can they find a way to bridge their differences, rekindle the passion of their youth, and construct a love built to last?

A Love by Design by Elizabeth Everett is the third book in the author’s popular The Secret Scientists of London series.  However, this can be read as a stand-alone novel.  My advice is to read the entire series as it’s all so much fun.  

Story Recap: 

Margaret Gault returns to Athena’s Rest after working at her husband’s firm in Paris. Now, after his untimely death, Margaret’s father-in-law, won’t let her run the company.  Margaret has plans to start England’s first women-owned engineering company, but she faces opposition at every turn.  

George Willis is now the Earl of Grantham, and he’s happy to see that Margaret has returned to London and Athena’s Rest.  George and Margaret were friends as children, long before George became the Earl of Grantham.  But, when Margaret gets commissioned to build a new project with his political archnemesis, his work to hurt his business rival, may destroy Margaret’s chances to be the first woman to design a tunnel under the Thames river.  

My Thoughts: 

So far, this is my favorite book of the series. And it’s all about Lord Grantham, and his charming ways.  He accepts Margaret’s intelligence and he knows she’s more intelligent than he is, but that doesn’t harm his ego one single bit.  Margaret is a widow and doesn’t need the distraction of George, and besides, she can’t trust him because he broke her heart many years ago. 

It’s clear that Margaret and George are meant to be together as they balance each other out. And they still love each other as they did when they were kids.  Margaret is thoughtful and methodical, as you would expect an engineer to be.  And she’s also very determined to own her own firm, but she has so many obstacles and has to make a decision that could hurt her friends at Athena’s Rest.  

A Love by Design is heartwarming, exciting, humorous and just delightful.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series!  


I highly recommend A Love by Design to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Elizabeth Everett

Elizabeth Everett lives in Upstate New York with her family. Her Secret Scientists of London series has received critical acclaim from BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, PopSugar, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. Elizabeth’s work is inspired by her admiration for rule breakers and belief in the power of love to change the world.


A LOVE BY DESIGN by Elizabeth Everett

Berkley Romance Trade Paperback Original | On sale January 17, 2023


Maggie had returned.
Of course, she was now known as Madame Margaret Gault.
Try as he might, Grantham could never twist his tongue around the name.
Almost his whole life, he’d called her Maggie.
His Maggie.
From upside down, he watched as she turned the corner of the carriage house, the wind unfurling
the hem of her simple bronze pelisse. A brown capelet hung about her shoulders, and a matching
muff hid her hands. Catching sight of him, she paused, tilting her head so he caught a glimpse of
lush auburn curls peeking out from beneath her tea-colored bonnet trimmed with bright red
berries. Margaret’s fair skin showed no hint of the freckles that had once plagued her every
summer, and thick brown lashes shielded her hazel eyes.
She was unusually tall for a woman; nevertheless, she moved with effortless grace, and not even
the blazing clash of colors adorning Violet next to her could detract from her beauty.
For she was a beauty, Margaret Gault. Once wild and graceless, she’d bloomed into a woman of
elegant refinement.
A woman who was more than met the eye.
A woman who would rather feast on glass than give him the time of day.
For eleven years, the first day of summer meant Margaret would be waiting for him beneath the
willow where they first met. She and Violet attended the Yorkshire Academy for the Education
of Exceptional Young Women together. While Violet came home to her large, affectionate-and
very loud-family, Margaret had no one waiting for her at home. Her father had died of a stroke
when she was ten and her mother had little interest in Margaret’s whereabouts or well-being.
Violet and Grantham had been Margaret’s family. The three of them had been the best of friends
until one hot afternoon when Margaret had smiled a certain way and the ground went out beneath
his feet. A year later he was soldiering in Canada and Margaret lived in Paris and their summers

together were nothing but a memory he pulled around himself like a blanket on cold lonely
“Good afternoon, Grantham,” Violet greeted him, seemingly unaffected by his headfirst dive into
her rosebushes. She wore a shocking yellow day dress beneath a burgundy velvet paletot and
atop her head sat a garish blue bonnet topped with a life-sized stuffed parrot.
Swallowing a barrelful of curses, Grantham tried wriggling out of the bushes, every single thorn
piercing his flesh a hundredfold as Margaret stared without saying a word.
“Ahem.” He cleared his throat as he managed to get to his feet despite being trapped in the center
of one of the bushes. As he pulled a branch from his hair, a shower of wrinkled brown rose petals
drifted down his shoulders. “You are especially . . . vibrant today, Violet. I brought this for Baby
He thrust the torn, dirtied rabbit at Violet, who received it with a bemused air. One of the buttons
had come off and the silk was stained green and brown.
“Madame Gault,” he said, bowing to Margaret. “So lovely to see you again.”
No matter how strongly Grantham willed it, Margaret did not speak to him in return. Instead, she
bent her knee a scant inch in a desultory curtsey, her lush mouth twisted like the clasp of a coin
purse, no doubt to hold inside the names she was calling him in her head. He had a good idea
what some of them were, considering he most likely had taught them to her.
Grantham hadn’t seen Margaret for thirteen years until their reunion-if one could call it that-a
year and a half ago in the small parlor of Athena’s Retreat. He hadn’t exactly met the moment
then, either-although to be fair, there’d been a hedgehog involved. The handful of times he
encountered her since, she’d avoided meeting his eyes with her own, as though he were an
inconsequential shadow cast by their past.
Someone to be dismissed.
Someone who had broken her heart and whom she would never forgive.
“See who is come to live in England for good.” Violet linked her arm with Margaret’s and
beamed at her friend.
This was news.
When Margaret had come to stay at Athena’s Retreat a year and half ago to complete an
engineering project for her father-in-law’s firm, Grantham had hoped she’d stay but she returned

to Paris after three months. He’d asked Violet if Margaret might ever return, but Violet had
doubted it.
“She’s one of the only women engineers in Europe with an excellent reputation. Why give up a
dream hard fought to come back to England and fight all over again?” Violet had asked.
Something had changed, however, and now Margaret was home.
His heart leapt in his chest and the bitter orange flavor of hope flooded his mouth.
“Clean yourself up and come inside for tea,” Violet said to him now.
Margaret did not echo the invitation. Instead, she tightened her hold on a stylish carpet bag and
accompanied Violet and Arthur into the building.
There are moments in life when the world shifts as though a door has opened somewhere out of
sight. Whether a person runs toward that opened door or not depends on how fast they’re stuck in
place. Grantham considered for a moment how painful it would be to get himself unstuck.
Although the tangle of branches in front of him twisted menacingly, he pulled a deep breath of
resolution into his lungs alongside the scents of rosehips and crushed greenery. Gritting his teeth,
he made his way through the thorns toward the open door.

Excerpted from A Love by Design by Elizabeth Everett Copyright © 2023 by Elizabeth Everett. Excerpted
by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

Have you read A Love by Design? Or any of the Secret Scientists of London series

24 responses to “Book Review: A Love by Design by Elizabeth Everett

  1. Great review, Wendy. Isn’t Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey? I like the sound of this series and am looking to see if I can find this series at the library before I buy them.

  2. I’ve got the first book and hope to get to it at some point. Yeah, that is an interesting situation they find themselves in, but I love that he totally respects her abilities.

  3. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    I don’t think I have heard of this series yet! I like the mix of science with the regency era.

  4. This sounds like a lovely read. Once upon a time, I read a steady stream of historical romance and this one would have fit right in. Excellent review, Wendy!