It was clear to Lydia Perkins from the first that she was courting scandal when she became involved with Major Samuel Reed. This outrageously impudent officer kept deplorable company in dismal surroundings beyond the boundaries of polite society. Even worse, he was shamelessly, sinfully penniless. — To keep him company would ruin Lydia's already slim chances in the marriage mart. To listen to the shocking proposal he made to her would spell ruin to her good name. To run away with him in a mockery of marriage on a honeymoon journey through the wilds of England was the ultimate folly for a young lady whose family demanded she wed both wisely and well. Could Lydia say "I do" and accept the Major for better or for worse, or would she risk losing the only man who had ever captured her heart?
I often mention how Balogh is my favourite regency writer. When I realised I had read most of her back list I went in search of another author who be as satisfying. Although I haven't loved every Carla Kelly I've read I think I can safely say that I always open her books knowing that a good, well written and original story will come out of it. This book has been in my TBR pile for more than three years now so it seemed like the perfect pick for this months challenge - regencies are a classic of the romance genre and so are "marriage of convenience" type plots such as the one we find here.
One of things I like most in Kelly's books is how she picks common people, with worries and troubles that always make them seem real. She paints a colourful picture of the regency period but, unlike most books out there, she focuses on the changes the war brought. In this story the heroine finds herself helping care for wounded soldiers who are kept in terrible conditions and are viewed by the ton as a source of amusement.
There meets Major Sam Reed and as she becomes close to him and his man they start developing a relationship of sorts. But when Lydia decides to champion the wounded soldier's cause she is thrown out of the house by her mother and her only recourse is to accept Major Reed's offer of a marriage of convenience. To placate his mother and aunt while he was fighting in the Peninsula he told them he was married and now he must present a wife when he gets home.
And so Lydia and Sam journey to Northumberland, to Sam's ancestral house and on the way they deepen their friendship, their affection grows and they also meet some perils and unexpected turns.
I really enjoyed to see their relationship develop. I liked both Lydia and Sam and although Sam's story seemed to crazy to be true the fact is that it was great fun to see them try to follow things to the letter and then discover that there was really no need. I liked how they had moral values and worries other than a pretty dress or your next ball. I also liked the glimpses that Kelly gives us of the historical background connected to the war.
This made for a very satisfying read and, as the blurb on the cover of the book says " Carla Kelly is always a joy to read".