Jane Rathbone is used to being left behind, and no longer believes she deserves happiness. But when childhood friend Jasper Charton returns from the Americas, more dangerously sexy than ever, she has a proposition. She’ll give him the property he needs if he’ll give her a new future—by marrying her!
Jasper never imagined taking a wife, but wonders if loyal Jane could be his redemption. And when their marriage brings tantalising pleasures, convenient vows blossom into a connection that could heal them both…
Another review of this book is HERE.
I was in search of something fresh to read, so I gave The Secret Marriage Pact a go.
Set in 1825, shortly after the Regency, this is halfway between a friends-to-lovers and a reunion story, as the hero was sent to America at fifteen, leaving behind a heartbroken (slightly younger) heroine. They lost contact as the hero fell into his uncle’s gambling industry – which was promptly wiped out by a yellow fever outbreak in Savannah.
Now he is back and hiding the true source of his income from everyone but the heroine, who proposes a business deal with him if he’ll marry her.
My interest was piqued by the Fleet Street setting (Fleet Street was my first address when I lived in London). These characters live very comfortably, but they don’t have titles. This was a great change from the usual dukes and duchesses.
I actually liked the younger hero, as historical romance leads seem to be getting older and older, overlooking the fact younger people achieved plenty in the past, and mid-twenties was a perfectly acceptable age for a man to marry.
Something I could have done without was the mental lusting. I know it’s standard in historical romances (well, ALL romance!) these days, but I wasn’t buying it. Childhood friends part for years, meet again in their twenties, and just pick up where they left off – but now with lots of thoughts about the bedroom? I felt like we’d missed a step. There should have at least been some awkwardness and even anger between them first. They should have been more like strangers to each other at first.
I’d have liked to see two childhood friends fall in love, not just decide they were in lust from day one.
I did really like that this is part of a series, but instead of all the books happening in the space of a couple of years, the first book is set a decade earlier. It’s a nice idea, and a way to catch up with past heroes and heroines without it all being about pregnancies and babies.
A little niggle, but I didn’t like absence of adverbs in the dialogue/thoughts; a dearth of adverbs is a quirk of US English. E.g. characters should not be saying wide when it should be widely, and easy when it should be easily. It killed the “British” feel of it.
I liked so many of the ideas in this book, and the fact it made subtle changes to many of the favourite themes of historical romances.
However, I’d love to have seen this written with less in the way of I’m not worthy!, and I want sex!, and with more development of the connection between hero and heroine.