The first chapter in this book is so intense and delicious, I got very excited! But my excitement soon fled as this book loses steam and had a romance that didn’t work for me.
The reason the first chapter is so striking is the fact that our heroine, Grace Alnott, needs a husband desperately. She comes from trade, her father owned a very large grocer and she has a fifty thousand dollar dowry. Her father really wanted her to marry a titled gentleman, in particular a man named, Lord Rayner. But Rayner is a vile man and performed vile acts – and Grace absolutely refuses to marry him. When her father dies, and she reads his will, she is horrified. He names Rayner as guardian of her four-year old brother, and will only release Grace’s dowry to her when she marries a peer. The problem is, Grace doesn’t know any peers, except Rayner. So she advertises herself to titled gentleman who are desperate need to marry wealthy, and sets up a marriage of convenience. Marry her, take half her dowry, and leave her alone for the rest of her life. With the money, she can rescue her brother and let her life go on.
Everett is a titled gentleman in need of lots of money. Recently returned from the army, he inherits a title and a cattle farm that are failing. The cattle are becoming diseased at an alarming rate, and his tenants are suffering greatly. He also inherited a lot of debt from his brother and father and he is very stressed about keeping his staff and tenant safe and healthy.
So when he hears what Grace is offering, he puts his name in a hat and they meet and she accepts his marriage proposal. But he has a condition – he is embarrassed to let his staff and tenants know he didn’t marry for love, like his parents. So he asks Grace to pretend to be his wife for six weeks. She really wants to get Henry and run away, but he is adamant (she doesn’t tell him about Henry at first because he is basically a stranger and doesn’t know she can trust him). She agrees to six weeks and off she goes.
I have two big problems with this book. First, Grace and Everett lack passion and chemistry. There isn’t a lot of build up to their romance and although they spend a lot of time together getting to know one another, it just fell flat for me. I lost interest in them as a couple. What bothered me more is the fact that we start this book so desperate for Grace to save Henry, who is most likely being severely mistreated by Rayner. I felt like Grace should have tried to act to save Henry during these six weeks – especially after she knew she could trust Everett. And then – after meeting with Rayner – and hearing that Henry is being strictly dealt with (remember he is four) he leaves, and she learns Everett actually loves her and they have sex (this is after several make-out/sex sessions leading up to this.) Is she really this horny all this time, knowing her poor brother is being beaten and lord knows what else?? Does that put you in the mood???
I couldn’t get into the romance because I was too worried about Henry.