Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Heiress in Love
Jane has always done what her guardian, the Duke of Montford, has requested, including entering a marriage of convenience with Frederick, Lord Roxdale. She endured years of painful marriage that left her scarred and fearful of ever marrying again, but she survived because of the love she had for her orphan relative, Luke. When her husband dies, his heir, Constantine Black, comes as soon as he can to discover what is happening with the Lazenby estate he has inherited. He and Frederick had been at war for years over a scandal that rocked the ton and left him estranged from his entire family. Both Constantine and Jane are horrified to discover that Frederick's will leaves both of them in a quandry; Con gets the estate, the mortgage on the mill, and guardianship of Luke while Jane gets all the estate's money. Neither is satisfied with this arrangement and both wonder if the only solution is for them to marry so that Jane can be with Luke and Con will have enough money to support the struggling estate and pay the mortgage on the mill that was once the lifeblood of the estate.
Con hates being backed into a corner and is desperate to find any way out of an marriage of convenience, but if he wants to get the mill operable again to provide for his new tenants he needs a major influx of cash and quickly and the only way he can think to get that is to marry Jane. Her marriage to Frederick had left Jane thinking she was incapable of having sex so she does not want to go through that again, especially not with a man everyone is warning her away from, including her guardian. On the outside Jane is icy, but Con knows that deep down there is a woman as capable as passion as any and he wants to be the one to bring her out of her shell. As they get to know each other she realizes that he is far from dissolute and cares deeply for his responsibilities while he discovers that she loves deeply when someone is deserving of her affection. But with a neighbor jealous of Constantine's success and a guardian who doesn't believe in love matches, there is a lot standing in their way and they will both need to take a stand for their relationship and for love.
I was first struck by the wordy language of the book and the long descriptions of things that I felt were unnecessary, but as the book went on I got into the style and started to enjoy the the writing style, especially when when it concerned their attraction/ lust for each other because it made the book very sensual. The book is part of a series called the "Ministry of Marriage," and I am torn between being annoyed that whatever this ministry was, it was not explained and I didn't get the sense of a series, and happy that space wasn't taken up with something not totally relevant to the romance. I spent a portion of the book confused because there were many secondary characters that weren't really developed and their importance and relationship to Jane and Constantine weren't really explained. I imagine they're in upcoming books but it was hard to tell. I really enjoyed the subplot involving the mortgage on the mill and the jealous neighbor and how it showed how caring and generous Constantine was and how well he handled crises.
Jane's handling of her previous marriage was admirable because she did learn and grow from it and she was so young when it happened. There were times when I was frustrated with her actions, like blowing hot and cold with Con, but I remembered what her life with Frederick had been like so I remembered. Her love for Luke was genuine but he really felt like a plot device for leaving Jane with no choice but to marry Con. I really enjoyed Constantine because he was strong and protective and his actions in regards to the tenants made it clear he really cared and was quite intelligent. However, his demand that people should just know that he wasn't responsible for committing acts he hadn't committed without any explanation or justification of what really had happened, were out of line and it caused some frustration down the line. There were some really hot and steamy scenes between them and some lukewarm scenes, and I enjoyed how much time they spent together and how they got to know each other because I could really sense that these two had a strong bond and a strong relationship.
Rating: A readable romance with two characters that had their flaws and a strong relationship, but the book had some other problems.