The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke 506
Nine years ago Lady Viola had fallen madly in love with the dissolute and absolutely broke Lord John Hammond. Against the advice of her brother she married him, convinced that they were going to have the perfect marriage and that he loved her in return. The two enjoyed three months of marital joy, punctuated with passionate arguments and even more passionate making up. But when she found out John had given a diamond necklace to another woman, paid for with her dowry nonetheless, she could not forgive him. She moved out, ignoring John's insistence that it was merely a going away present to end the relationship with her former mistress, and over the next eight years the two led completely separate lives. John took solace in the arm's of woman after woman while Viola pretended she did not care and lived a perfectly comfortable life on her own. But when John's heir dies and the next in line is a horrible man, John knows he needs to reconcile with his wife so that she can give him an heir.
Viola does not care what John wants or needs and has never forgiven him for crushing her heart all those years ago. John sets out slowly and methodically to woo his erstwhile wife; tempting her shopping trips and plans to redecorate their London townhouse, quick trysts in hidden alcoves, and doing his best to remind her of all the happy times that they had while married. But the spector of all those woman remains between them and John worries that he will never be able to bring back the young girl who was so infatuated with him. He knows he made mistakes, but he does not believe he shoulders all the blame for what happened, he just knows that he wants to make things right and that he desperately wants his wife back. With his silver tongue and his charming wits John wears down Viola's resistance and reminds her of the happier times they had, but he still is unsure if what he feels for her is love. When someone from his past arrives with a surprising announcement, he is forced into the realization that Viola is all he wants, it is Viola he loves.
This book was obviously incredibly emotional and both of these two inspire some quite heady feelings in the other. I found myself crying on more than one occasion as Viola reflected on the past and what she believed John had thrown away, and John thought of the mistakes he had made and the happiness he so desperately wants to have with Viola. I liked that no one really was completely to blame; they both made mistakes (although John was probably more to blame really) and the reader knows they both have a lot of things to learn about life and love before they can go on together. I really felt as there was strong relationship development throughout this book as they started really from scratch and went from there. However, the book does not make a strong enough distinction between the way he treated his mistress and the way he is currently treating Viola. There was some decent sex by the end of the book (Viola did withstand his advances for quite a while) and it was really a sign that there relationship was coming together.
I was led to believe based on some things that happened at the beginning that John would do something rather embarrassing and outrageous to get Viola back, so I was incredibly disappointed when it turned out to be more pathetic than outrageous. And I had one major major problem with this book! (Spoiler Alert!) The person from his past who comes back is an ex-mistress, whom he slept with while married to Viola, who arrives with what is undeniably his baby in tow. I am okay with a wife accepted her husband's illegitimate child when it was conceived before they met/ married, but one who was conceived during the marriage?! No way, no how! All Viola does when the baby arrives is feel sorry for the fact that the mother had obviously had unreturned feelings for John, much as she herself had, and she agrees pit-pat to take on the care of the baby. I did NOT like this. Too much forgiveness and acceptance for my preference.
Rating: I probably would have given this book three hearts (maybe 3 1/2) but after that horrible ending I really was tempted to just give it one, but I will give it 2.