Interview with Wendy Vella, Author of The Reluctant Countess and Giveaway!

Wendy Vella, author of The Reluctant Countess, is in the virtual offices today to introduce herself and chat about her new book.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about yourself?

[Wendy Vella] I was born in the beautiful North Island of New Zealand where I live with my husband of 28 years Blake. I have a daughter Sophie age 25 and son Nathan 22.

I’m a hoarder of books an avid cyclist and lover of food. I’m a romantic who can’t watch a movie unless it has a happy ending. I hate shopping and usually end up with another black item that matches the three others in my closet. Patience is not one of my crowning glories but I rarely lose my temper and when I do RUN! I like to talk and often, according to my husband, it takes me an average of 100 words to get to the point. My favourite time of the year is Christmas when according to my family I turn into a crazed Christmas Fairy with maniacal tendencies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Reluctant Countess?

[Wendy Vella] It’s a story about two people who have never had a reason to trust before. Born into different worlds both have been betrayed by people close to them. Patrick the hero is arrogant, distinguished and hides his emotional scars behind a carefully erected façade. Circumstances place Sophie into a life she is not equipped to cope with yet must to protect the two people she loves most. It’s a journey with plenty of colourful characters, humor and passion that eventually finds Sophie and Patrick in each other’s arms where finally they can find the love they always believed would elude them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Wendy Vella] I was looking for a competition to enter and found one that gave you the starting scene of a book. The scenario was a ballroom with a handsome Lord and a mysterious Countess and that was where The Reluctant Countess came from. I actually never entered the competition but it worked out well in the end.

The characters really just developed with the story. I had a Countess and an Earl so the main two were already given to me and the opening scene set up their personalities. Patrick was mistrusting of her from the start and Sophie hid her terror of the unfamiliar world she was thrust into by being cold and informal. I have some great secondary characters in this book too, which I hope everyone loves as much as I do.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Wendy Vella] Protective, vulnerable, courageous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Patrick had a theme song, what would it be?

[Wendy Vella] (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie won’t leave the house without.

[Wendy Vella] Spare hair pins.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Patrick’s pockets?

[Wendy Vella] His hands, a crumpled handkerchief and any item of food.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sophie’s greatest regret?

[Wendy Vella] That she has to live a lie to secure the happiness of the two people she loves most.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Wendy Vella] I love reading, and wonderful dialogue with creative characters and intriguing plots is very motivational. When I read something that really stirs me I want to write something that will have the same effect on readers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Wendy Vella] I’m not big on rituals or needing peace and quiet to write. I simply need music, a chair and a laptop. I can pretty much write anywhere.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Wendy Vella] Angel Falls – Nora Roberts

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Wendy Vella] Georgette Heyer – These Old Shades

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Wendy Vella] Spend time with my family. Read or go for a long bike ride. We have some pretty neat scenery over here in NZ so I love getting out on my bike for a few hours.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Wendy Vella] My website is http://www.wendyvella.com/ and I have a facebook page http://facebook.com/AuthorWendyVella and Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/wendy_vella

“THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS” can be purchased from Random House INC http://www.randomhouse.com/book/221633/the-reluctant-countess-by-wendy-vella

Email: wendy@wendyvella.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can read an excerpt from The Reluctant Countess here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/112350111/Vella-ReluctantCountess-Final

Giveaway Time!!

Thanks to Random House, I have 1 print copy & 3 Net Galley Preview copies to give away!  The digital copies are open Internationally, the print copy is US only.  Fill out the widget for your chance to win.  Earn extra entries by following.

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Didn’t win? You can order The Reluctant Countess from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

Character Interview: Ellie Vyne of Jayne Fresina’s The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne and Giveaway!

Thanks to the magic of the interwebz, Miss Ellie Vyne, intrepid heroine of Jayne Fresina’s The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, dropped by the virtual offices recently to introduce herself.  She also brought along a present for one of you to win – a copy of the book she stars in!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Ellie] Loves to dance, usually trips!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Ellie Vyne?

[Ellie] I always emerge from bed with the absolute certainty that all will go well. Within half an hour I am usually safely disabused of that notion.

When a guest of my sisters, I rise early. I never like to cause too much additional work for the staff. I am in the way enough as it is, and frequently reminded of it. Once dressed, I must then endure breakfast. This is an event during which my sisters will lecture me about deportment, my sadly inadequate looks, my stained gowns and the importance of finding a husband before I am utterly lost. They fear, of course, that as I grow older and don a lace cap, I shall look to them for my food and shelter. They have no idea that I am the one who has provided for them as best I can all these years. Somehow they imagine their father, the Admiral, has managed it all on his stretched Navy pension. But it is much better that they have no inkling of the manner in which I paid for their society debuts and weddings. They have very small brains already overloaded with the trials of their daily lives—inefficient housemaids, hems that require stitching, books that take too long to read, you know the sort of thing— and I wouldn’t want to increase their worries or labors.

After breakfast we must sit and find "worthy" employment until noon. The less said about that the better. Then guests will pay visits. You might imagine this could provide some much needed jollity, but by rule these visits must never last longer than half an hour and frequently never exceed a quarter. There is barely time to ascertain the state of a person’s health in so short a visit, let alone find out anything of juicy detail. It is hardly worth putting my book down to listen, but if I do not I must suffer the red-hot poker pricks of my sisters’ angry looks. So I close my book, tilt my head and look intensely concerned about the muddy state of the path this morning, Mrs. Smith’s husband’s gout, the goat’s cough and —aha, a lively piece of news at last—the sow’s dramatically reckless escape from the pen in which she was supposed to be serviced by the boar. Poor sow; I know how she feels.

Of course, now my sisters are married and have taken up superior residency in London, their neighbors have even less interesting tales to relate.

If I am staying at Lark Hollow, my stepfather’s house in the country, visitors are kept to a minimum, for in the afternoons he naps—if he can find a spot in the house where rain is not dripping through the roof. Later he will play cards or chess with me and I must always allow him to win, for he is a very poor loser and will sulk grandly for three hours if he is not the victor. Trust me, you would never want to see the Admiral in a sulk.

In the evenings, at my sisters’ houses, one is expected to participate in whatever "entertainment" they are attending or hosting. At such painful times I generally like to pretend I am someone else and somewhere else! Again I think with reverence of Mrs. Smith’s daring boar and consider breaking my way to freedom with a merry "oink". I should like to see my sisters chasing me about the garden, trying to corral me back into the party.

When invited to join friends in Brighton or Bath I have a vast deal more fun and, naturally, more opportunity to use my disguise as the count de Bonneville. Balls start at ten and seldom finish before three in the morning. Then there is no early rising! What I get up to on those occasions it would be indiscreet to tell.

As you see there is really no typical day for me. I never know what fate has in store for Ellie Vyne.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of James?

[Ellie] Villainously charming menace.

There are a great many more. It is cruel to keep me to only three!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is his most annoying fault?

[Ellie]He believes nothing I tell him.

Again, there are so many more from which I must choose only one, alas!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the sweetest thing he’s ever done?

[Ellie] Saved me from the fate of a wallflower recently by asking me to dance, even when I had a torn dress and trifle on my rear. I’m sure he had an ulterior motive, but it was rather sweet. Even I must be forced to acknowledge it. I suppose. But he is a Hartley and good deeds do not come naturally to them, so it must have taken a vast effort on his part.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What made you start masquerading as Count de Bonneville?

[Ellie] Someone has to help with my stepfather’s debts. Admiral Vyne, you see, has fine champagne tastes on a bad ale budget. At eighty it’s much too late to make him change his ways and I promised my mama, on her deathbed, that I would take care of him. After all he had saved us both from a shipwreck once. Then my younger half-sisters both required dowries and wedding trousseaus. Raising a family is a most expensive undertaking, so I found. But once I began the masquerade as an exiled French count, just to gamble at cards and fleece unsuspecting aristocrats of their coin, I began to enjoy the role. It is a wonderful escape to be someone else for a while.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How close have you come to having your ruse discovered?

[Ellie] I cannot be sure of that. I often wonder how I get away with it and occasionally I think I’m being followed, but who would ever guess that Miss Ellie Vyne is behind it all? I mean, I look so innocent. Don’t I?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Do you find the threat of being caught more frightening or more exhilarating?

[Ellie] Oh, exhilarating, most definitely! I suppose, as an aged spinster of twenty seven, I should be very bored if I did not have that excitement to keep me on my toes. Time enough to sit in a corner with my sewing once I have "retired" the count for good.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Ellie] I would never have painted an ink moustache on James Hartley’s face while he slept under a tree.

Wait…what am I saying? I most certainly would. Of course I would. How could I resist? He really shouldn’t have been laying there. It was asking for trouble. I daresay he should even thank me for the lesson he learned from that incident.

And how was I to know that no one would tell him what was drawn on his face—that he would walk about like that for the entire day?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Ellie] My mama’s pearls. They are dainty and elegant, which is almost enough to make me feel dainty and elegant too. It is all I have left of her, so I carry them with me always.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less?

[Ellie] Books, fireplace, sleeping dog. Peace.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Ellie] Why, thank you! It was a pleasure.


Here’s more info about the book:

THE WICKED WEDDING OF MISS ELLIE VYNE BY JAYNE FRESINA – IN STORES JANUARY 2013

When a Scandalous Lady…

By night Ellie Vyne fleeces unsuspecting aristocrats as the dashing Count de Bonneville. By day she avoids her sisters’ matchmaking schemes and dreams up torments for her childhood nemesis—the arrogant, far-too-handsome-for-his-own-good James Hartley. Her latest prank: "winning" the Hartley diamonds in a card game from James’s mistress.

Steals from a Notorious Rake…

James finally has a lead on the thieving Count de Bonneville, tracking him to a disreputable inn. He bursts in on none other than the brazen, irritating, nearly naked Ellie Vyne. Convinced she is the count’s mistress, James decides it’s best to keep his enemies close. Very close. He must get those diamonds back, and seducing Ellie will be the perfect bait.

It Can Only End in a Wicked Wedding…

Praise for The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne:

“[The characters] banter and quibble with comic perfection…” —Publishers Weekly

“Readers who adore wickedly funny, fast and sassy romances will delight in Fresina’s latest. The naughty desire-in-disguise theme, coupled with sharp, hilarious repartee, steals the reader’s heart…” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Fresina brings a unique voice and perspective to the 1820s romance novel. Fans of Grace Burrowes and Amanda Quick will especially appreciate Fresina’s intriguing characters and humor.” —Booklist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Her next novel in the Sydney Dovedale regency romance series, Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal, will be in stores in June 2013. For more information, please visit www.jaynefresina.com and check out her blog: http://jaynefresinaromanceauthor.blogspot.com/.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of THE WICKED WEDDING OF MISS ELLIE VYNE?  Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following.  US and Canadian addresses only, please.

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Didn’t win? You can order THE WICKED WEDDING OF MISS ELLIE VYNE by clicking the covers below:

Excerpt: A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

I can’t resist holiday romances, and Random House is releasing a pair of Mary Balogh’s classic titles.  They are sharing an excerpt of A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau for your reading pleasure.  If you enjoy, please consider ordering from the links below.

 

A CHRISTMAS BRIDE/CHRISTMAS BEAU by Mary Balogh, Excerpt

About the book:

In a pair of classic Regency-era Christmas romance novels from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh, the holidays herald the greatest gift of all: unexpected, all-consuming love.
A Christmas Bride

The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention. Helena is intrigued by the seductive stranger—but he’s simply not in her class. Marriage, of course, would never do. But in a season of miracles, something wondrous is about to happen.

Christmas Beau

Not even the warm, forgiving Christmas spirit can stop the Marquess of Denbigh from settling his score with Judith Easton: The beautiful young widow injured Denbigh’s pride years ago by jilting him for another man. Now that Judith is free from a nightmare marriage, the handsome marquess has her in his sights—and wants her in his arms. But to trust the tender words on his lips, Judith must not only see past the hardness of his heart, but learn once again to trust her own heart’s desire.

You can order from the links below:

More Romance Deals to Feed Your eReader!

Here are more tempting romances to feed your eReader! I love Loretta Chase and Tessa Dare, and several of their titles are discounted at Amazon.  December is turning out to be a dangerous month for my pocketbook!

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase – 2.99

Lessons from a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Jordan – 2.99

How to Be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe – 2.99

Blame it on bath by Caroline Linden – 2.99

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare –  2.99

Review: How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English

 

Title: How to Tame a Willful Wife

Author: Christy English

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously gorgeous.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?


Review:

I had high hopes for How to Tame a Willful Wife, and I was left disappointed for one reason; I didn’t like the hero, and he never won me over.  Caroline, on the other hand, was a fun heroine, full of spunk and not willing to just sit around and wait on her overbearing husband.  She was overindulged as a child, and allowed to explore life in her own way.  Her father, a rough and crusty sort of guy, saw no problem with his daughter learning how to wield weapons and learn to defend herself.   The world wasn’t a safe place, after all, what with all of the conflicts going on around them.  Raised by fighters, Caroline is unrepentant that she isn’t a girly type of a girl.  Her mother is less than thrilled, and constantly harps on her to grow up and act like a lady, but Caroline is too stubborn and too independent to listen.

One of the things that I liked about her was that despite being a rough and tumble girl, she was always aware that she had a duty to uphold.  Her reputation was everything, and she tried not to bring any embarrassment or scandal to the family.  After her hasty, unwanted marriage to Anthony, whose wealth saved her family from poverty, she finds that nothing she does is good enough for her husband.  She’s not allowed to be herself, and he expects her to conform to his idea of the perfect wife.  No more riding aside, no more weapons lessons, no more, well, FUN, and Caroline doesn’t like that at all.  What I didn’t like was that Anthony expected her to change who she was, without making any changes to himself.  He still intended to carry on as before he was married, with his wife tucked away at his country estate.  He would continue his own pursuits in London, and that included visits to his mistress.  While that might have worked in Shakespeare’s day, it didn’t work for me.

My greatest disappointment with the book was my least favorite plot device, and it’s one that’s used too often in YA novels.  The hero has made a terrible enemy, an awful man who ruined his younger sister.  Instead of explaining the situation to Caroline, Anthony becomes evasive and refuses to tell her why she must stay away from one of the only friendly and welcoming people she’s met.  Why, why, why must she never speak to Lord Carlyle?  By not treating Caroline like an adult, by not being upfront with her, all he did was push her into danger.  Carlyle is a smooth operator, always kind and helpful, more so than her husband.  I found Anthony annoying and thought Caroline deserved better.  I did enjoy the author’s writing style, and hope that the hero of the next book in the series is a little more likable for me.

Grade:  C+

Excerpt: The Scoundrel Takes a Bride by Stefanie Sloane

Random House has an excerpt from The Scoundrel Takes a Bride to share.  If you enjoy the excerpt, you can pre-order by clicking the links below.  In stores December 26.

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride by Stefanie Sloane (Excerpt)

About the book:

Lady Sophie Afton wants one thing and one thing only: Revenge against the man who ruthlessly killed her mother fifteen years before. Painstakingly preparing herself for the task and awaiting just the right moment, she approaches Lord Carmichael armed with the skills required of a spy and the knowledge that the Corinthians have reached an impasse in her mother’s case despite all the progress made by her dear friend Viscount Hardwicke. The Rook was only the beginning. Another man cut her mother’s throat, but it will take a woman to bring his identity to light.

Carmichael cannot refuse her. And just at the moment Sophie believes she’s on the cusp of experiencing the defining moment of her life, Nicholas Young appears. The younger brother of her betrothed, Nicholas had disappeared years before into the wild of the East Indies, where, if rumors were to be believed, he’d made his fortune through questionable means. In truth, Sophie had given little thought to her childhood friend. Until now. There was no denying that she adored Langdon Young, Nicholas’s older brother and the man she was meant to marry. But the moment Nicholas stalks back into her life, Sophie knows she will never belong to another. His touch inspires desire, his kisses need, and his skin on hers brands Sophie for life.

Aided by her Corinthian counterparts, with Nicholas at her side, Sophie delves into the dangerous depths of the London crime world in search of what she’s longed for her entire life. Or is it? Can revenge mean more than love?

Liked the excerpt? You can purchase by clicking the links below.

Cheap Reads for Your Kindle!

Here’s a roundup of Regency romances, all priced at under a buck! Click on the cover for the Amazon product page.

   

The Duke Takes a Bride – .99

Who said being bad wasn’t oh so good?

Benedict Devlyn, Duke of Banbury, has one thing on his mind and it isn’t mar-riage. But things take a turn for the worse when his menacing and aunt throws a hitch in his plans to remain the most sinful and talked about man in the ton. After all, a man cannot keep the reputation of being The Devil Duke when he is leg-shackled to some simpering spinster.

But his aunt, bless her heart, thinks she’s dying, and believes her nephew’s be-havior is the only thing standing in the way between her entrance to heaven or hell. So she very lovingly and selflessly sets him up. With his childhood nemesis.

A young woman who, though she claims it was an accident, has nearly killed him thrice through her lack of grace and manners. It matters not that the minute he sets eyes on her at the Christmas ball, his blood boils with lust. He refuses to al-low himself to fall prey to his aunt’s ministrations.

That is, until he is compromised and stuck in an engagement to a girl who claims she’d rather jump from a moving carriage than marry him. Funny thing that, for the very minute she says no, he finds his heart very much wants to say yes. When she doesn’t leap at the chance to marry him, he sets about to not only prove that he’s worthy of her favor, but also worthy of her heart.

 

 

Two Turtledoves – .99

Baldwyn Sinclair, the Duke of Paisley, returns to London in the dead of winter at the request of his over-bearing grandmother to find she has forged a betrothal contract on his behalf… without his knowledge. Now he is to be married to none other than the girl who used to throw mud at him in order to gain his attention.

He is not happy about the prospect, but he is nothing if not devoted to duty.

Anastasia Trent has been in love with the Duke of Paisley since she was seven years old and has spent her life pining for him, fantasizing about the moment they would see each other again. But when he makes it clear that her imaginings are in vain, her disappointment drives her into the arms of a dangerous man.

It is up to Baldwyn to rescue her once again, to save her from herself, and to find perhaps, along the way, exactly what his own heart was searching for.

 

 

Redeeming the Deception of Grace– .99

Lady Grace Hashiver has perfected the art of hiding behind a sarcastic wit when it comes to dealing with the rakish Ewan Emmett Duke of Greys, her childhood tormentor. Her wit protects her from betraying the attraction and desire she feels whenever she is around him.

Ewan Emmett, Duke of Greys is perfectly thrilled to torment Grace at every opportunity, until an old acquaintance begins an honest suit for Grace’s hand. When Ewan begins to feel the pangs of jealousy causing him to question his reasons for his constant teasing of Grace, he discovers a depth of emotion he didn’t know he harbored towards the golden haired beauty. Suddenly he is no longer the tease, but on the receiving end of the torment as he wonders if he‘s to late too fight for her love.

 

 

Scandal on Half Moon Street – .99

All the Honorable Anne Kirkhoven wants is to be wrapped in the arms of the man she loves, Frederick Shaw, Esquire, barrister, solicitor, writer of the best Gothic romance novels in England, and surely a future Member of Parliament. But despite Frederick’s many perfections, Anne’s mama has forbidden her to speak with him, much less marry him, and until Anne attains her majority, all they can do is wait.

But now the most notorious duke in the ton, Ernst Anton Oldenburg, the First Duke of Cumberland (and some say a foreign prince), is making a public point of assessing her… attributes, sending shivers to portions of her anatomy she’d rather not name. Who’s the right man? And will her reputation survive the Duke’s assault long enough for her to find out?


 

The Partridge and the Peartree – .99

Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett, dreamed of a peaceful life with a suitable mate until a hunting accident left him scarred and nearly deaf. Resigned to spending the rest of his days alone, Phillip has devoted himself to rebuilding his family estate. But, a chance encounter with a lovely young woman in a dusty bookstore rekindles his almost-forgotten hopes and dreams.

Lady Amelia Partridge has no time for the frivolity of the London social scene. She is much too busy. In addition to her work with the Ladies Literary Society, she has a mission – ed-ucating poor children in the city. She also has a secret life, one she fears might drive away the young duke who has become increasingly important to her.

Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

 

 

Title:  An Infamous Marriage

Author: Susanna Fraser

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.


Review:

I enjoyed An Infamous Marriage quite a bit, due to the strength of the protagonists.  The first quarter of the book was wonderful, and the couple wasn’t even on the same continent!  With the emphasis on the war against Bonaparte at the end of the story, I thought that the book covered new ground, too.  I liked that we were given a first hand account of both Jack and Elizabeth’s wartime experience, fretting with them both as they struggled to maintain a sense of calm amidst the chaos surrounding them.  Elizabeth had an especially difficult time, as she waited for word from the front that Jack was kept from harm’s way.  Their parting before he rode into battle was heartbreaking; having caught her husband in a dreadful lie, Elizabeth’s hurt frothed to the surface, making her unable to see him off with anything but bitterness.  While his behavior was unbecoming of the man of honor he claimed to be, it was Elizabeth who suffered most from their harsh parting.  I felt so bad for her, too.  Jack really had behaved like a cad, and his window of opportunity to confess his crimes had long closed.

After her husband of a week falls tragically and terminally ill, he forces a promise from his best friend to marry Elizabeth and keep her safe.  Unable to refuse his deathbed request, both Elizabeth and Jack find themselves married shortly after Giles’ funeral.  Their neighbors are aghast, but Jack has to return to Canada, where he serves in the army, so there is no time for mourning.  He’s gone for five long years, and at first, Elizabeth finds herself falling for the man she married.  His letters are a delight to her, and she cherishes each piece of Jack that he shares through his missives.  Then a meddlesome neighbor shares some gossip from Canada with her; Jack has made quite a reputation for himself, and it’s not a good one.  He’s a rake and, despite being newly wed, he is engaging in one affair after another, without even bothering to be discrete about his activities.  Elizabeth’s world is shattered.  How could he be so cruel, and humiliate her without even a shred of remorse?

Jack does behave like an idiot.  I don’t know why he thought word of his indiscretions would never reach his wife.  It’s not like he was in Canada all by himself, and there was nobody around to notice him flaunting his mistresses about.  When Elizabeth confronts his behavior when he returns home after a five year absence, she is angry that he’s caused her so much grief.  She gives him the opportunity to come clean and confess all of his sins.  When he insists that he’s a man of his word and he isn’t a liar, he only cleans half of the slate.  Keeping one secret from her, one that embarrasses him, he leaves the door open for  future heartbreak for both of them.  I could not believe that an army man, a man who had faced death on the battlefield, would chicken out when given the opportunity to clear the air between himself and his wife.  Elizabeth would have been furious, rightfully so, but she also would have forgiven him, in time.  By lying to her – oh, dear, I knew that wasn’t going to end well.

Even though I wanted to dislike Jack, I couldn’t.  He sincerely felt awful about what he did, and he lacked the courage to confess.  I was in an agony of suspense as I wondered how Elizabeth would find out what a cad he had been.  The pacing of this story is leisurely, as both Jack and Elizabeth’s point of view is explored.  I enjoyed glimpses of both of their lives, both in peacetime and war.  At the start of the book, I was unsure if I would buy into their HEA, but by the time I reached the last page, I was convinced that, while both characters had  flaws and lapses of common sense (epically, on Jack’s part), they believed enough in each other and their future together to put those painful memories in the past.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by author