Friday, October 26, 2007

The Marriage Bargain - Diane Perkins

For this months AOM at HistoricalRomanceChat Group I read Diane Perkins's The Marriage Bargain.

Handsome soldier Spencer Keenan and timid country girl Emma Chambers agree to a wedding in name only, rescuing Emma from his uncle’s unwanted suit and providing her the home she desperately desires. After Spence leaves for war, however, Emma’s idyllic life is soon transformed into worry and toil, caring for his crumbling estate. Emma’s youthful romantic fantasy that Spence will return to make their marriage real is quickly dispelled. Now Spence has returned, but in a coffin, struck down in a duel. Needing to look upon his face one last time, Emma narrowly saves him from being buried alive. In return she seeks a new marriage bargain – Spence must give her a child. While Spence battles haunting memories and unknown treachery, the one thing he doesn't bargain for is falling deeply in love with his now valiant and captivating wife.

It is a really nice story, the hero and heroine married a few years before the story starts but he went off to war and left her at his estate. For several years now his money transfers have been reduced and she is almost penniless when suddenly his two closest friends come back with his coffin and the announcement of his death. By a strange event the hero wasn't dead and it's the heroine who rescues him. From then on not only he has to recover from his wounds but he also has to gain her trust (she believes he stopped sending money because he gambles) and they will have to solve the mystery of the missing money.

As you can see there's nothing really new regarding the plot but Perkins manages to build some really nice characters that we end up caring about and that really made it work for me. I would still prefer her Gaston books because they are more original but I would grade this one a solid B. Even if the bad guy was a bit predictable...

I was curious about his uncle, after all Spence did marry Emma to save her from him but here he only looked like a sad figure and not particularly threatening. Spence's two friends who are build up to future hero material will probably never get their own stories because the author is not writing under her Perkins name anymore.

Grade: B

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