Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Unwilling Bride

An Unwilling Bride by Jo Beverley 1105 

Beth Armitage grew up quietly, but happily, with her Aunt Emma and eventually became a satisfied school teacher for young ladies. The Duke of Belcraven originally accepted his wife's son, conceived with another man, as his own, but when his own two sons passed away he had difficulty being completely happy with the situation and it caused a rift between him and the Duchess. When he discovers that Beth is his own bastard child he decides that the perfect solution is for Beth to marry his heir, Lucien de Veux, the Marquess of Arden. Lucien is shocked to learn the truth of his parentage and feels adrift to no longer be a true de Veux, but he has no intention of following the Duke's orders until Belcraven threatens to leave all of his money elsewhere and leave Lucien with a bankrupt estate. Beth too is horrified by the proposal but the Duke once again resorts to blackmail to get the marriage he wants and Beth is moved to London where she tries to fit into London society and tries to get to know her future husband. 

Beth has always been a believer in equality for men and women and for the classes and it is not long before she and Lucien are exchanging quotations and philosophizing on the rights of men and women. They both enjoy the banter but Beth is not reconciled to her plight and she insinuates that she may not be a virgin. Despite not being a virgin himself, Lucien is horrified at the implication and her mistake colors every interaction they have as he cannot look at her the same way. She regrets her hasty words but the chasm between them only continues to grow as he starts to go out in the evenings. No matter how awkward the wedding must go on, but now she is terrified of consummating the marriage as the gulf between them continues to widen and they both wonder if anything will ever come of their marriage. There is also the matter of a man from Lucien's past who is threatening the happiness of one of Beth's former students and she is determined to help her friend. Lucien and Beth work together to help this girl and in the process discover that they are perfect for each other. 

I love that Beth had a career and a purpose in life and was so well educated she could hold her own with the most well to do men. She was shy and introverted and her reactions to being forced into marriage were very realistic because she recognized she had to succumb because of what the Duke was holding over her head, and yet her pride still compelled her to do all in her power to try to stop the wedding. She was insecure about herself and unsure of how she would fit with her very handsome husband and his glittering and well connected friends. Lucien overcame the truth of his parentage very quickly and he reacted fairly to what was happening to him and Beth as neither of them got very mad at each other and they recognized that they were both victims of this scheme. I felt like they were too controlled and were holding so much in and went about their interactions far too rationally. There was  a lot of talking, a lot of them sharing quotes to see who was the best at it, and it was jut not to my taste. Seriously? Taking turns quoting people? Completely ridiculous. 

Because of Beth's fear of intimacy there was basically no sex in the book and very little lust even though that very little was enough to make Beth's head spin and send her off into endless little mind tortures. This book has apparently gained some notoriety because Lucien backhands Beth when he believes she has had another man in her room. I obviously found it abhorrent but I was willing to be open minded given the right circumstances, but those never arrived. She just accepted that it would never happen again and that he was provoked (even though I did not feel like it was that big of a provocation) and he apologized and spent less than a page regretting what happened. I was also horrified by the fact that less than an hour after the slap Beth was sitting in Lucien's former mistresses house and they were becoming the best of friends. Ugh. The plot involving her former pupil became the entire focus of the last quarter of the book and overwhelmed what could have been them finally falling in love. The book also felt like an homage to Beverley's former books in the series and a setup for the next which I didn't like.

Rating: Two incredibly talkative people who did not behave normally around each other and actions I didn't like and a side plot that overwhelmed.

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