Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Susanna Fraser

Left orphaned and penniless as a young child, Lucy Jones learned to curb her temper, her passions, and even her sense of humor to placate the wealthy relatives who took her in. She became the perfect poor relation--meek, quiet, and self-effacing. She clings to her self-control because she can control nothing else.

James Wright-Gordon also lost his parents at a young age. But he became a wealthy viscount at fifteen and stepped into full control of his fortune and his birthright as a parliamentary power broker at twenty-one. At twenty-four, he is serenely confident in his ability to control everything in the world that matters to him.

At a house party in the summer of 1809, James quickly discerns Lucy’s carefully hidden spirit and wit and does his best to draw them out. After being caught in a compromising situation, they are obliged to marry. But can two people whose need for control has always been absolute learn to put love first?
A Marriage of Inconvenience by Susanna Fraser is the story of how orphaned and penniless Lucy Jones and Viscount James-Wright Gordon end up married despite the vast differences that separate them, including their own feelings. This is also the prequel to The Sergeant's Lady and it gives the readers the background to Anna's story.

I loved the first part of this book where the author depicts the interactions between the cast of characters, and conveys how 1809's society viewed both marriage and money through actions and discourse. The meetings between our protagonists James and Lucy, Lucy's interactions with her family, and the contempt with which she is treated by them as one who is less fortunate are all scenes that the reader can almost see in their minds eye because they are so well detailed by the writer. Those are the scenes that impacted me the most.

Lucy is pretty near at the bottom of the social scales, as she has no fortune and lives on her family's charity. On the other hand, James is a wealthy viscount whose father earned his money while working in India. The fact that Lucy is dependent on her family plays a big role in this romance. Even after her much admired cousin Sebastian offers marriage, their engagement is kept secret and Lucy is often ignored or humiliated with the exception of her new friends James and Anna.

The romance between James and Lucy is actually quite lovely. It develops from a new and tentative friendship into what amounts to an unrecognized courtship. I loved their interactions during this part of the story and up to the point when the two are caught in a compromising situation. A situation where Lucy is quite the willing participant. Once that happens, James plays the gentleman and offers marriage on the spot.

Once James and Lucy marry, the focus of the story changes and although the couple is happy in many ways, the conflict shifts to that of trust and control. This is all right, however, part of this trust issue is all about Lucy letting go of herself sexually. This became frustrating, not only for poor James but for this reader as well -- however, I do believe other readers might really enjoy this section. Once that happened, the story picks up again with a well done resolution to conflicts where angst becomes part of the equation.

When it comes to secondary characters, Anna and Sebastian were the main draw. These two characters really caught my attention and I couldn't wait to read their story. Sebastian was such an ass that I couldn't wait to see what happened to Anna in her own story... so I picked up The Sergeant's Lady immediately after reading this book.

A Marriage of Inconvenience is an enjoyable historical romance read. The story is a bit uneven with an excellent beginning and first half, a frustrating middle, and a good resolution. The story ends with a sweet and satisfying epilogue.

Category: Historical Romance
Publisher/Release Date: Carina Press/April 11, 2011 - Kindle Edition
Grade: B

Visit Susanna Fraser here.

Series:
The Sergeant's Lady
A Marriage of Inconvenience

14 comments:

  1. This sounds really good!!
    :) I like the idea of the unrecognized courtship, :)

    Thanks for your review, it really sounds like the kind of book I like :)

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  2. Wow. I've been seeing this title around, but hadn't looked into it. I've always had a soft spot for marriages of convenience. I'll have to go take a look over at the Carina site. I never think of them for historicals.

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  3. Alex, I loved that part of the book. I think you'll like this one and THEN you'll have to read The Sergeant's Lady too, lol!

    Renee, I read this back in April and immediately had to read The Sergeant's Lady -- a 2010 release and one I liked even more. They are both great reads by Fraser (and Carina).

    I'm with you, I would never have looked at Carina for historicals if I had not read Songs of Seduction by Carrie Lofty and loved it. This month I read Portraits of Seduction by Lofty too, another Carina release. I'm really enjoying the different settings and excellent writing in these romances. :) At the moment, they are only available in digital format.

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  4. Your thoughts echoed mine almost exactly. The romance was quite wonderful but the second part of the story was a bit frustrating. I did get The Sargent's Lady right after but haven't gotten to it yet.

    Great review.

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  5. Tracy, I'm glad I wasn't the only one that found that long section (you know which one I'm talking about) a bit frustrating. *g* I hope you get to The Sergeant's Lady! I loved the romance in that book and the setting was the cherry on the top for me. :)

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  6. I really like the covers on both of the Fraser books you reviewed. The stories sound good, too! I really need to visit Carina Press... they receive so many accolades from trusted reading friends!

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  7. Great review Hils.

    This is all right, however, part of this trust issue is all about Lucy letting go of herself sexually. This became frustrating, not only for poor James but for this reader as well -- however, I do believe other readers might really enjoy this section.

    Actually, I am probably one reader that would...not find this section as frustrating. As someone who...has an issue in this area (I haven't read the book [yet] so I can't be more precise than that :) I get endlessly frustrated with heroines that have no problems in this area whatsoever, when that is so far from reality. But then I guess none of us are really reading these books for reality :)

    Sorry, it's all kinds of raw ATM... I look forward to reading the book.

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  8. Christine, I like the covers too... although I find them a bit too similar in content, plus they used the same color palette. The stories ARE good, though. My first historical by Carina was Song of Seduction (which I won from DIK). I didn't know they put out historical romances. So far, so good. :D

    Orannia, you definitely need to read the book to understand what I mean. :D But after your comment, I really think you'll enjoy that section of the book.

    For me, the frustration came with the change of focus in the story, which was rather hmmm... shall we say different (if not drastic) from the first half. Other readers, however, might enjoy the second half more than the first. I think it all comes down to personal taste. However, the bottom line still is that this is a good read.

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  9. Good review! I bought this book a while back and I really should get to it. I like the sound of them being friends first. :P

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  10. This author is doing pretty well for you. :)

    I'll have to read this one before reading The Sergeant's Lady. Both books sound like a nice change in historical romances.

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  11. Actually sounds pretty good, Hilcia :) At least, I really like the blurb. Bit worried at how the storyline will actually turn out though LOL.

    So, will Sebastian get his own book?

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  12. *nods* I hope my comment didn't cause offence? That so wasn't my intent at all.

    I'm definitely going to give the book a read, and The Sergeant's Lady :)

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  13. Ames, I also loved that they developed a friendship first. I think you'll enjoy this one.

    Leslie, yes... so far so good. I read this two stories in chronological order too, instead of "release" order. And my take is, that the stories flow beautifully that way. They make sense.

    Nath, the story is quite good, and it turns out rather well actually, no worries about that. Sebastian? No book for him, but he makes an appearance on The Sergeant's Lady. :)

    Orannia! No offence given and none taken! I'm glad you're going to read it, I do think you'll enjoy it. I wanted to be more specific above, but didn't want to spoil it for you. :D

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  14. Thank you - for your comment and for avoiding spoilers :) Have been having a number of foot in mouth incidents of late (or at least they seem like that to me).

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