Friday, October 12, 2007
An Arranged Marriage - Jo Beverley
I'm particularly fond of marriage of convenience stories and so I've been looking forward to this one for a long time now. Especially because I've read almost all the others in the Company of Rogues series.
Eleanor Chivenham didn't put much past her vile brother, but even she had not anticipated his greedy scheme to dupe a rich earl into mistaking her for a lightskirt! With her reputation in shreds and her future ruined, a defeated Eleanor was forced to agree to a hasty wedding. But marriage to the mysterious Nicholas Delaney, with his casual elegance and knowing smile, was more than she'd bargained for. He doubtless thought the worst of her, but when society gossip soon told her all about his beautiful French mistress, Eleanor tried to act with the cool dignity required in a marriage of convenience. But how long could she hold out against his undeniable charm-or the secret desires of her heart?
For the sake of family honor, Nicholas Delaney agreed to wed a wronged lady. In truth, such chivalry ran counter to his carefully wrought image of a carousing, dissolute rogue-the guise so vital to his secret political mission. He hoped to keep his new wife in the background until a spy was trapped, but Eleanor's beauty and fighting wit were impossible to ignore. In fact, she presented quite a challenge to his prowess with women-and a test of his formidable will!
I was a bit afraid when I saw the initial misunderstanding but fortunately Beverley solved that rather quickly.
I did feel Nicholas was a bit too good to be true, marrying on his brother's request, immediately caring for his bride... I think they too brotherly love a bit too far, no matter how Nicholas was used to solving his brothers problems...
Nicholas is involved with the secret services and that collides with his marriage as he has to seduce a spy to uncover a plot to free Napoleon Bonaparte. This ended in another misunderstanding but once again I didn't feel it was too much. Beverley handles these beautifully, her characters show intelligence and rationality in face of adversity and I cared wether they would manage to find a happy ending or not. I really liked how Nicholas treated Eleanor, despite his peculiar bahaviour he was always repectful and caring and even bringing his friends to suppoert her when he couldn't.
It did puzzle me a bit that Eleanor never confronts her true ravisher about the why. We know what went on in his head but Eleanor and Nicholas never mentioned it to him. I did like it however that Eleanor confronted her husband about his dealings with the other woman and how he disappeared for so long. It was also refreshing that she didn't punish him forever and ever, she just needed time to deal with everything and when she did she accepted him.