Comment: After some years in the shelf, I finally got to this book and read it. Most of the time I add things to my TBR over some opinion, some detail I saw somewhere, the blurb, the possibilities I imagine over all these things combined... sometimes that pays off, others it doesn't but in this case I was quite satisfied by how the story developed.
In this book we meet Victoria Carson, an American heiress who has lived in England since she was a child for her parents wanted her to marry into nobility. They finally found a promising groom, who will become a duke and they bet on the fact the family is lacking funds to make it necessary for the current duke to accept the proposal. That is how the young couple marries...Victoria knows this was what her education has prepared her for and she knows her marriage might not be a loving one but she hopes she will have respect and companionship at least. The groom is Andrew, the earl of Dunnley and he is more interested in archaeology. He does accept this marriage for he has two younger sisters and his family is not a caring nor supporting one. He thinks Victoria is another young woman eager to ascend socially but in time he realizes she isn't who he imagined. Could these two ever find enough common ground to make their marriage work and, perhaps, make it a loving one?
This is the kind of historical I like and not only because the trope is marriage of convenience, which I tend to enjoy. What really made me like this story is that the main characters have to reevaluate the other person as their days and lives mingle. I liked that this process wasn't instantaneous, that they had to see and experience life together and by little things while Andrew is away at his archaeological work dig but in the end they reunite the necessary information in order to assess if their marriage has grounds to work out.
The way these marry isn't as simple as a family needing money and the other having it to ascend socially. Usually a common exchange in the society of the 19th century, the fun part of to see the ones marrying dealing with the changes this brings both of them. In this case, the plot wasn't as straight as that for Andrew isn't living with Victoria at first but when do have to spend time together and decide to make it work, also for the sake of Andrew's younger sisters, then we can see how they become better people by being a couple.
Victoria is a competent and likable heroine. She does what she has to in order to maintain her reputation and all that but I could totally believe her need for freedom, and if by marrying a stranger she could get away from her stifling, uncaring parents, she would try her best to achieve that. My favorite parts of the story was seeing the little things she does to improve her home into something she feels proud of, including helping the tenants and such.
Andrew is, I'd say, a more complex character, in the sense he is the one who has to go through more emotional obstacles. He doesn't have a good relationship with his parents, like Victoria, but for different reasons. He likes to stay away at digs or archaeological sites and his life was ongoing in a certain way. I wasn't too fond of him at first but if there is one thing that made him more likable to me was how, after realizing his perspective could have been wrongly assumed, he did try to make things right with Victoria and in making his marriage a better one.