What happens when two people enter into a marriage of convenience with conflicting agendas? I don’t suppose I even need to give an answer to that one really. Conflict and drama do appear on the list of answers though I’m sure. I have been on quite the Historical Romance kick lately and wanted to try many different authors in the genre. I grabbed up this book to both try a new author and give a romance with such a potential for disaster a chance. I enjoyed it to a certain extent, but there were a few moments when I was frustrated too. Let’s just say this was probably a pretty accurate look at a marriage of convenience and the rosy glow of romance wasn’t as present in this one as in other similar type stories. Haha!
Jamie Boleigh, Lord Tregarth, will lose it all if he doesn’t come into a great deal of money soon. He is presented with an unusual opportunity if he is willing to take it. He is offered a marriage of convenience that includes the stipulation that he leaves his new wife in control of all her funds if she agrees to help him pay off debts and restore his estate. He accepts out of desperation and assumes that with time his wife will get tired of financial decisions and money matters and will leave that to him.
Clare Greenough was reduced to near penury when her brother dies and their cousin gets the family estate. Simon forces her and her sick mother out of their home and washes his hands of them. Her mother dies and she becomes a governess. When she inherits a fortune from a great-uncle, Clare is determined to never again be put in a situation where someone else controls her money, but to get to her money which is still in Simon’s tender care, she must marry. She devises a plan to keep charge of her fortune even after her marriage. It doesn’t hurt that she finds her new husband attractive even as she sees the appalling situation of his estate and household.
Jamie and Clare begin their marriage on a hectic note when she discovers just what she has gotten herself into. He jumps into taking care of the lands and tenants while she tackles the household. Fortunately, her newly hired companion/friend is there to help. Slowly, they both start to enjoy their new situation and each other, but their differences in thought on the finances eventually drive a wedge.
This book was somewhat of what I was expecting, but then not. I knew there would be conflict over their difference of opinion and I was ready for it. I also figured the evil Simon would play his part and he did- hate that weasel. The addition of Jamie’s impish younger twin sisters, the cute autumn romance between Selena and the vicar and even the inclusion of the domestic scenes and village life were adorable. I liked the idea of two flawed people coming together and helping each other grow. Clare needs to learn to trust after her bad experiences with Simon and Jamie needs to fight his alcoholism and become a worthy lord and family man. All that I truly enjoyed and wanted more of.
But that being said…
I took up issue with things about half-way through. Both of the main characters went into the marriage with understandably selfish motives. They made an agreement because they needed things. I was willing to let that string along for a while until the relationship took and started to grow, but the thing is that neither let go of their selfishness and were blind to each other’s needs. Jamie ran from issues into his bottle and lost his temper. Clare? Clare just ran. A few times, if she would have just stuck around long enough to ask instead of assume, it would have ended so much better. Clare couldn’t seem to see that she just steam-rolled over things flinging her money and decisions about- basically treating Jamie like a kept man. She couldn’t seem to see that he just wanted to be able to hold his head up for the first time and having to always come across decisions she made without him just kept reminding him of his place. You’d think working as a governess and kowtowing to spoiled children and their parents would help her see that, but nope. And Jamie, he was so busy trying to alieve his guilt and shame over the condition of his estate and feeling sorry for his circumstances that he neglected his sisters and neglected to see what was driving Clare to need control the way she did. I tried to understand because both were really shaped by their pasts, but it got annoying that they were so oblivious about things not on their own agendas.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that I hated the book or the people. I struggled with their issues, but at the same time I loved them together. Against the odds, these two were really making a go at things and were true partners of a sort that was novel in that era bringing an estate and home to life. It was remarkable and I loved watching it happen. Their passion and eagerness to be together without playing games was what showed me that no matter how idiotish they both acted at times elsewhere that their relationship was right and good. They were good for each other.
I would have liked a bit more closure because I didn’t feel that all issues between them were totally resolved and I would have loved a final confrontation with Simon who it never did say what his issue with Clare was. However, at least the two of them did lay a lot of things out there that needed to be said and were well on the road to getting it right this time around.
So all in all, I was glad to read Jamie and Clare’s story (and yes, for those in the know I kept having Outlander moments because of the name similarities) and want to check out the author’s other Regency Romances.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.