Reviewed by May
In the Dorset countryside lives the beautiful Lady Charlotte Wylder. After her father (an Earl) passed away her mother took her three daughters off to the country and raised them there. That is, until one fateful night when a carriage rolls up with news of Charlotte’s fiancé the Duke of Marchbourne, and how he wishes her to come to London so that they may arrange their wedding.
Unaware of being betrothed as a young girl, and having never met this Duke Charlotte takes it all in stride pretty admirably. They set off and much to the delight of both March (the Duke’s nickname) and Charlotte they have chemistry and like each other instantly.
He’d decided his first meeting with Lady Charlotte Wylder should appear to be by purest accident beneath the open sky, as if a whim of fate instead of their fathers had brought them together. He’d intercept her traveling party and graciously invite them to stop here at Greenwood for refreshment, as any host might. He’d already ordered tables arranged in the west garden, where his late mother’s white roses were beginning to bloom, and his cooks were busily preparing a selection of temptations for ladies. But that would be all. A chance meeting, followed by civil hospitality, white roses and sweet biscuits and tea, an accident of love contrived by an ardent bridegroom.
March was at first delightful to me. Fun and gentle, respectful and with a pristine reputation – I was really excited to get to know this gentleman who was in no need of reforming. I loved that he seemed to have a playful side and a romantic heart. Unfortunately, what I didn’t see at first is that March is a control freak, obsessed with being proper, and that he has no clue about how to treat a lady – or any idea on how to be a good husband. He treats his wife more like a doll on a shelf than an actual woman, and he is very patronizing at best.
“Frugality is always necessary, March,” she insisted.
“It’s a kind of virtue, and part of running a house well, no matter how large or small. I’m certain that once I’ve had a chance to look over the accounts, I’ll find all kinds of small economies for us, as well as instances of tradesmen not being as honest as they should be in their reckonings with us.”
“My own wife.” He smiled, all fond indulgence. “I’m glad that you wish to help me in this way, but just as you are no ordinary wife, this is no ordinary household. Perhaps in time, when you are older and more experienced, you may wish to occupy yourself with domestic affairs, but it’s unnecessary at present.”
“But I wish to prove myself useful to you, March, as a wife should.”
“All I ask is that you be happy,” he said, and though he smiled still, it was clear he considered the question settled.
Through the book he scolds her, he controls darn near everything, and she just smiles and acts the good wife as best as she can. Despite her passion for climbing trees and riding horses fast – Charlotte is very much a good English lady. She listens to her aunt’s advice, obeys her husband, and stuffs her own dreams and hopes down below her duties and everyone else’s desires. Unfortunately proper ladies aren’t the most exciting to read about – especially when paired with exceptionally uptight gentlemen.
March has some very odd notions about sex and ladies, which later in the book are explained. My problem is not that he had such a horrible experience as a boy, but rather that he does not understand how it is ok to love and be passionate. How he equates his past experience to the present I do not get. In fact, his attitude about marriage and love and sex had me wondering if perhaps he is simply not that bright of a man. It seems more likely that I simply didn’t find him to be a well developed character. He seemed uneven, not quite believable, and not at all ready to be a leading man.
Ultimately this book was not a satisfying one. While there is obviously some conflict with the characters, I didn’t feel satisfied in their resolutions, nor did I believe March had changed at all. While there is a bit of a villain plot (it was weak at best, and quite random), there really was no conflict, no real story to get into here.