Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sherry Thomas - Not Quite a Husband

Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon--to no one's surprise, not even Bryony Asquith's. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn't possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?
Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won't rest until he's delivered an urgent message from her sister--and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them--or their rekindling passion?

Comment: Just another of the many books in the TBR...
I have read some books by this author, and she is certainly an author with a style. Meaning, there's a certain way she writes which makes her voice different and sometimes the style seems to fit the story wonderfully, sometimes not much so but I suppose it always depends on the reader. I had read five books by her before this one (only four I posted on my blog) and only one wasn't historical. I have yet to try her historical mysteries.

Anyway, this is the story of Bryony and Leo, a couple who seemed to find the perfect connection but it all went wrong somehow and they decided on an annulment. Bryony is a doctor, her ability takes her to travel the world to help people and to learn more. There's also the benefit of having more distance between herself and her ex Leo, but he does seem to show up once in a while. Things change again in India, when he shows up with a message about her father, who is sick and even though they both wonder if it might be a ruse to bring them home, but just in case they do go back, although with all the revolts their path might not be as easy as they think... could this be the time for them to finally talk and solve their issues?

Going back to what I said, those who have read this author's historicals certainly recognize troubled relationships (and marriages) seem to be a preference of the author. Sometimes the plot and the characters seem to be well fitted, other times things get very irritating, at least that is how I see it; or the story works out for me or I can't stand the characters...that's how I have felt about the previous books by her I've tried. Therefore, going into this one I hoped the emotions and the drama could be dealt with well, otherwise I feared it might not be enjoyable for me, as it happened with one of her books featuring the same "couple in trouble" trope.

Bryony and Leo married after a quick courting and despite the age difference (he's four years younger if I remember correctly) they hit it off pretty well. However, lack of communication seemed to have been the big obstacle between them, along with assumptions, and they separated not too long into their marriage. I can see how this trope is popular, it's realistic, no one is ever perfect, marriage is compromise and so on, and often romances are a journey to marriage, not dealing with the marriage itself but considering how they solved things by talking, by seeing each other in different roles (having a common foe in the need to win a battle) brings them closer and they realize they still care about each other.

I just wonder, why not doing this sooner? Unlike the marriage in trouble plot of another book by the author which I liked best, where a key factor was how the characters felt about the whole thing, the two in this book, however, individually seemed quite unaware why the problems developed between them or why the other one might think differently on the subject. It's not impossible to imagine but to be honest, I struggled to be interested in their issues and the way and why they separated seemed very melodramatic. Their attitude as a couple before they (obviously) made up at the end seemed very unbalanced and it was difficult to see why they liked each other enough to marry. But, then again, the hero does something before they marry which is stupid in my opinion, and even more so because it makes no sense in the context of the story - especially if he liked the heroine that much for that long.

Closer to the end of the novel, I was rooting for them but the fact they were put in a stressful situation exacerbated their feelings and opinions of one another. It seems they only required time and adversity together to overcome their issues. I mean, sure, but why took them so long to talk and deal with things, especially if they are described as clever and the heroine so practical? I suppose when feelings are involved everyone can change but still...

All in all, this wasn't as great as I hoped for. Bryony and Leo seemed like real people in some aspects, like silly children in others and I didn't like some plot choices by the author. This wasn't as great to read, not because it can be depressing; the other book by the author with troubled marriage I liked did the characters' angst and misery and re-connection so well (even though other elements weren't as good in the novel) that comparing to this one, I can't help but feel this isn't at the same level, emotion wise. I suppose I can say it's one less in the pile...
Grade: 5/10

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