An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

I bought this on a whim a couple of weeks ago, based solely on a comment on a blog. On the lookout for a Regency with some weight to it, this seemed to fit the bill for me.

Boy did it ever.

I know a lot of people don’t like reading about cheating in their romances. However I’ve seen more than one person comment that if you’re going to have cheating in a book, Susanna Fraser does it the best way. I absolutely agree with that, and would tell people for whom this is a deal-breaker to give the book a chance anyway. The infidelity is the motivation for characters’ actions from start to finish in this story, and it served to provide the angst I was looking for in my read.

An Infamous Marriage begins with Elizabeth married to Jack Armstrong’s best friend. Jack returns from war to find his friend on his deathbed, and upholds the man’s dying wish that he marry his wife. Neither character is thrilled with the prospect, but Jack always keeps his promises, and insists the marriage happen. Immediately afterwards he heads back to the military in Canada, and there he stays for five years, never thinking news of his actions on one continent would make it all the way back to another.

With impending war as a backdrop, Elizabeth and Jack must finally get to know each other five years after their marriage, and Jack has to go a long way to make amends. Both characters were hugely flawed, and I loved the fact Jack was no typical historical romance hero. He wasn’t gorgeous, and he’d spent his young adult years awkward and spotty and unpopular. Just as Elizabeth was deeply hurt by her new husband’s public rejection of her, she also had the power to hurt him just as deeply.

This is a book of complicated relationships, and two people finding a way to love each other, despite horrendous beginnings. More than most Regencies, the setting felt authentically British, and authentically of the era, with few Americanisms in sight.

An Infamous Marriage is a wonderful, emotional historical romance, and in Susanna Fraser, I’ve found a new favourite writer.

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