Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Marriage à La Mode - Elisabeth Fairchild

I think that one can find really sweet stories, true gems, in these Signet Editions. The line has been discontinued but whenever I find one I know I'll have a few hours of delightful reading.

Dunstan Hay, Earl of Erroll, becomes fascinated with a mysteriously veiled lady while visiting Tunbridge Wells. Behind the veil, he finds Lady Melody Bainbridge, a woman beaten and bruised by a husband she is seeking legal separation from. Melody is intrigued by the well-spoken and gentle manner with which Dunstan treats her. Dunstan, a confirmed bachelor, begins to lose his objections to attaching himself permanently to a female at the same time as he begins losing his heart to the courageous young lady. However, Melody's brutal husband is not totally out of the picture. He continues to torment Melody and tries to force money out of Dunstan by filing a countersuit against Melody for adultery. To free the woman he loves of such an evil being, Dunstan is willing to do almost anything. Will he be successful in removing Melody from such twisted clutches? Will Melody ever be free to marry the man she has come to love?

This book has an original plot. Set during the reign of King George VI Fairchild establishes a parallel between the attempt the king made to divorce his queen and the situation the heroine was suffering through trying to divorce her husband. In both cases the women's rights are gravely injured and are very different from the husband's. Fairchild shows a very sympathetic heroine to Queen Caroline's plight.

Other than that I found the main characters to be interesting and engaging, especially the hero who searches for a way to free the heroine and hopefully in a way that she can remarry. That can only be obtained in a somewhat tortured way as at the time divorced couples could not remarry. I found the way that their relationship, and later courtship, develops really nice and sweet.

There are not many secondary characters, the only major one is the Earl of Erroll's mother who at first doesn't seem very happy with the fact that her son as chosen such a scandalous bride. There seems to be a mystery attached to his cousin and his wife (Erroll's former beloved) and I was left wondering if they have their own book.

Grade: B

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