Saturday, April 14, 2012
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage
Minerva Montrose is a promising young debutante with high ambitions for herself and a determination to marry an intelligent future politician who she can help in his chosen career with her own knowledge and strength. Lord Blakeney comes from just such a political family as his father, a Duke, is head of their reform party and is very influential in those circles. Unfortunately Blakeney does not fit in well with his family, barely scraping by in school and spending his life in dissolution until the Duke is forced to cut him off and Blakeney heads to the country to learn how to run an estate and to avoid scandal. Upon his return he comes face to face with society's disapproval and in a drunken stupor mistakes Minerva for a far more scandalous woman and the compromising position they find themselves in forces marriage. Minerva is horrified but believes that with the connections of her new father-in-law she can turn Blakeney into a politician and possible create the life she had always hoped to live. Blakeney is upset at the way that things have turned out and does not know how he can ever live up to his new wife's expectations.
However he harbors a major secret that prevents him from ever moving in the circles that Minerva expects; he is dyslexic at a time when the disorder is not recognized and sufferers are treated as imbeciles. He has worked hard to cover up his inabilities and the only person who he has told is his former friend Gideon, who has since come to blackmail him into keeping his silence. Minerva cannot understand how her husband, who she is quickly coming to see possesses far more intelligence and charm than he has let anyone guess, could be so uninterested in the world around him and on the political influence that his father could pass on to him. He is convinced that if she were to learn the truth about him the trust and the feelings that have grown between them will end but he underestimates his wife and before he is even aware she knows she is out defending him and doing all she can to help the man she loves. Blakeney had never imagined that a woman could love him like Minerva and suddenly he sees a real future for himself- a future with Minerva by his side.
I really liked a politically active heroine, especially at a time when females were not really that involved in politics and that she had causes and knew what she was talking about and didn't just give lip service. I liked that she had expectations for herself and wanted a certain life and was not ashamed of it. She was incredibly intelligent, she was dedicated but I wish we had seen more of her from a non-political, non- scheming perspective. Blakeney was completely un-political and I couldn't help but wonder if I should disrespect a grown man, with so much power to wield, could ignore the well being of his country. His dyslexia was really well integrated into the story and explained a lot about how he operated and I really liked that it was explored early on and not a big startling reveal at the end. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have something like dyslexia before it was diagnosed and the stigma that came with it and I think Neville did an incredible job of realistically exploring how someone in Blakeney's position would have responded to his predicament.
I really enjoyed how much time Blakeney and Minerva were together and I would say the majority of the book was about them and their relationship even when it did not seem like it. They spent a lot of time together and I liked reading about how their mutual feelings of mild dislike progressed to respect and love through getting to know each other and they each opened the other up to new possibilities. I really felt like this was two amazing people who together became even more amazing thanks to the other and that makes for the best kind of romance novel. There was a decent amount of sex in the book, they were very attracted to each other, and there was a really nice sexual tension throughout the book and it was fairly hot if not scorching. There was a blackmail plot that kind of made random appearances and I felt like it was rather awkwardly done but it did not take away from the story at all and showed how great Minerva and Blakeney worked together as a team.
Rating: Another knock out book from Neville who has a talent for writing characters and romances that I fall in love with.