Because of You by Cathy Maxwell 1125
Samantha Northrup is unhappy about the changes she knows are coming her way because her father’s death has left her with little recourse. She has been living at her the vicarage in the tiny town of Sproule but the villagers have made it clear that she is expected to move out soon and that means moving in with the local spinsters and become their nursemaid and unpaid companion. One night a stranger appears on her doorstep demanding the keys to the Ayleborough vault and after a brief visit he goes to the local inn where he checks in as Mr. Marvin Browne and promptly falls sick with influenza. Yale Carderock is the son of the former Duke of Ayleborough who left when he was disinherited after blowing his entire inheritance and he has spent the last decade determined to make money and show his father he is worthwhile. But upon returning to England he discovered his father dead and realized that his chance for redemption are long past. As the healer in the village Samantha is called upon to care for Yale, but when he recovers he appears naked in public and everyone demands that they marry.
Seeing how the villagers have turned their back on Samantha after everything she has done for them over the years Yale decides to marry her, take her away from Sproule and reveal the truth before setting her up in a nice house on her own. But things go awry and the two end up spending the day and night in the bedroom and an annulment is no longer a possibility. Before he can reveal the truth Yale’s brother, the current Duke, Wayland, shows up and springs the surprise on his own. Samantha is furious and hurt as she was beginning to fall in love with her husband for how he had stood up for her and done what was right. Yale is still determined to take care of Samantha but he also intends to return to his shipping business in Ceylon and leave Samantha in the care of his family. Wayland tries to intervene to help both of them realize that their future is in England and there are family issues that Yale has to work through before he can feel worthy of the love and affection Samantha is offering. For both Samantha and Yale it does not matte where they are as long as they are together.
Maxwell has a knack for writing satisfying and fast stories that don’t exactly stand out but do leave a reader with the warm fuzzies and the feeling that it was a small number of hours well spent. This book follows that pattern with two fun to read, if unremarkable, characters engaged in a well developed and realistically formulated romance, with a big misunderstanding or problem that is concluded in a timely manner and does not become irritating in its’ intensity. I did really like Samantha because she was so brave despite the desperate situation she was in and how she wanted so desperately to fit in with the villagers and give them the benefit of the doubt even when they were so undeserving of her care. I even found her abilities as a doctor more believable than most because she did grow up in a vicarage where she was put in that situation and because she did consult with a genuine doctor and it was not just developed through some intuition of hers. I especially liked the nuances that Maxwell bestowed upon the villagers of Sproule; although they were mean and unfeeling at times their actions were well explained.
Yale was also well written as the prodigal son who was a rake when he was younger and then spent the rest of his life trying to prove himself to the family who turned their backs on him. It was made even more poignant because his father passed before he could confront him and because it was obvious that the bitterness he had built up over the years was unwarranted since the family regretted his actions and actively wanted to make it up to him. I really liked the scenes where he had to confront the fact that everything he had believed, and indeed everything he had worked so hard for, was wrong and he had to come up with a new motive and reason for success. He and Samantha had an interesting relationship because there was a big emphasis on the “spark” they had and it often took the form of little arguments and banter which I am not a fan of. They spent a lot of time together and it was clear that they both cared for each other and had the others best interests at heart. There was a decent amount of sex, not too much and not too hot but it was okay.
Rating: A fun, and very fast paced, book with two well suited characters in a fun little romance that was satisfactory and not too sticking.