Her benefactor's deal comes with a catch: give up her life of toil and live in luxury only if she marries his illegitimate son, a prisoner of war. It's an offer she can't afford to refuse. But her husband-to-be is dying, and he begs her to take one of his men instead--to marry purely out of mercy....
A marriage of convenience with a complete stranger... Could this arrangement ever work?
Comment: I'm a fan of Carla Kelly and I've collected some of her books along the years. This month I've decided to read this and I still have a couple more to read. She has a lot more than the ones I've read but some of them just didn't appeal to me based on the blurb. I consider myself a fan, so I trusted the blurb of this title too but to be honest, I didn't get what I was promised and this is another of my least favorite books by her that I've read.
According to the blurb we're suppose to have the story of Grace, a baronet's daughter whose father died and left her with nothing, In order to live, Grace agrees to sell her beloved house and falls from her society position and decided to pay off the bakery debt by working there in exchange for board. All her friends abandon her but she's pragmatic and realistic and it doesn't hurt as much as she thought. One day she is called for a will reading and an old man she helped leaves her a house if she agrees to take care and marries his illegitimate son, who's been in prison. Things aren't as easy as that, of course, but Grace accepts because the money that comes with the "job" will help her achieving her dream of buying the bakery from the owners when they are too old to work.
This is the part of the blurb that's true. The rest.... Grace does go to live in luxury, apparently there are people who don' take well to her presence and her being included in the will, her husband-to-be isn't just dying, he does the deed before even leaving the prison, she saves one of the men instead but they don't marry right away to fulfill the bargain, there's no marriage of convenience at all.
This means, the story I imagined, with two strangers marrying, living a good but unsteady life while trying to navigate a marriage, all the awkward scenes leading to everlasting love weren't happening. And Grace does not get a life of luxury.
What really happens is Grace saves the guy, he gets to live at the house while being followed everywhere. Grace takes him to the bakery because part of the deal is that she needs to be physically close to him, otherwise he could be shot on sight. There are enemies and bad characters in this book. That's' not bad per se, but the reality is that this book isn't what I thought I'd get based on the blurb and my experience with the author's other works.
I've read other readers' comments about the book and it's seems most agree on the misleading of this title and blurb.
There re other things I found weren't as captivating as in other books. I kept waiting for the hero's POV like it happens in previous books I've read, but in this one it didn't happen and part of the action felt very limited because Grace only said things she knew or saw. It's difficult to have a proper idea of things, especially when it comes to the romantic relationship if she's the only one showing us things.
In fact, their relationship didn't fell very romantic and although I understand the hero's wish to go back home to America, I found the HEA so unappealing and out of sorts I didn't have much fun.
There's a lot of confusing action towards the end, many things happening, related to different characters that on one hand I lost focus and in the other I didn't really care about how things would work out.
I think this is one of the weakest books I've read by the author. Her trademarks are there, Grace is a poor heroine, but the hero isn't the type of man I expected to meet. I don't mean to say all heroes need to be rich or have status or be important somehow, but Rob, this book's hero, despite his fine qualities, never won me over and I had a hard time trying to like him more than just the basics.
In the end, I wasn't very happy with this book. Still, the idea was there, the writing was there, the usual tone of the story was there. It just happened that the plot and characters weren't. I don't know, but I felt the difference. The story just didn't flow and I pushed myself to read when usually I can't stay away.
Oh well, I hope the other two titles I still need to read aren't like this one.
Another note: I've read the author now is only writing for the LSD community or about that. However, she still has a contract and this title was published parallel with her new work goals and preferences. I hope this isn't just filling up space, opposite the quality I expected of her. Let's see of other recent books are better.