Wed by Necessity (Smoky Mountain Matches #10) by Karen Kirst

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Her Inconvenient Husband 

When a riding accident strands socialite Caroline Turner overnight with the new stable manager, she gets the one thing she never wanted—a husband! Marrying the infuriatingly stubborn Duncan McKenna wouldn’t have been her first choice, but with her reputation damaged, it’s her only option. Still, there’s something about the brash, rugged Scotsman that fascinates Caroline. 

If Duncan wanted to wed a society girl, he would have stayed in Boston with his family and his fortune. He expects Caroline to balk at her new modest lifestyle, but instead the strong-willed beauty seems determined to prove him wrong, making her all the more irksome…and irresistible. The marriage of convenience isn’t what Caroline and Duncan planned, but could they be a perfect match?

Wed by Necessity (Smoky Mountain Matches #10) by Karen Kirst

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. It’s beautifully-written, apparently well-researched… However, while at first I struggled with the heroine, by the halfway point I was seeing red with the emotionally abusive, martyr “hero”.

No, that’s being too nice. I’m sorry, but this book actually upset me, beyond the historically inaccurate Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman hair on the cover (usually this Harlequin line has brilliant, gorgeous, historically accurate covers – this one is terrible! No female past girlhood would have been seen dead with her hair down in public.).

I was so upset by the “hero” of this book, I actually could not finish it.

I usually really enjoy Harlequin’s Christian historical line. I don’t believe in the religion the characters practice, but I often find these books to be better than the average wallpaper Regency romance. They deal with real people, and – even though there are more marriages of convenience than nuns at the Vatican – the social rules of the day are more historically accurate than most in this genre.

But then…

“Hero” and heroine are caught together in a compromising situation, and forced to marry. Until this point the heroine has been aloof and even rude, because she has two emotionally abusive and RICH parents who force her to be perfect, and not associate with people “beneath” her.

So the heroine does not become likeable until after her marriage.

However, what she doesn’t know is that the “hero” is a rich Scottish immigrant who “found Jesus”, and now wants to live in poverty for no reason whatsoever. And now he’s married to her, he expects her to live that life, too.

(We’ll just ignore the fact this guy is from Scotland, not Alabama!

He might be spouting ‘Didnae’ like the best of the Highland romance heroes, but at the same time he is talking like one of those evangelical preachers we get on TV here at 5am. It’s inaccurate, to say the least.)

In the past, a man who married into a big, established, RICH Southern US family would join their ranks. He’d be accepted into the family, be part of the family business, and fall into a world of more money than he could have dreamed of.

However, in this story – and apparently because of the hermit-like version of Christianity this “hero” practices – instead, the moment he marries the heroine, he forces her into poverty.

A few hours after their wedding, he orders her to pack up all of her things, her entire life, so he can donate it all to charity. She is only allowed to keep chambermaid-style clothes, and two decent dresses for church.

Also on day one, despite the fact she grew up rich, with servants, and still lives on her parents’ huge property, he expects her to suddenly know how to cook and clean, and then becomes furious with her when she’s off working on something else (like keeping her family’s business alive!) instead of waiting in the kitchen for him when he comes home for lunch.

He then forces her to become a low-class, working class farmer’s housewife, even though she is rich and can afford servants. He has a very public temper tantrum when she hires a part-time helper, even though she has other things to do, and no time to be a farmer as well as a housewife, as well as running her own little business.

He refuses to allow her to continue her charity work – what a Christian hero!

Why? Because he goes on about how he comes from money, but once he discovered Jesus he decided to live like Saint Francis of Assisi or something.

The hypocrisy is strong here.

Someone needs to remind this awful, awful man that HE rode off after HER, and HE was the reason they were caught together and forced to marry (though the author tries to blame that on the heroine, too).

I didn’t finish the book. It upset me. What this “hero” did to his new wife was nothing short of abuse. There was NO reason to force her into a life of poverty, and even if her parents were indifferent to their daughter, there is no way in ever-loving hell they’d want their child to fall so far in social standing and allow this. They would have lost face in the community. They would have been humiliated.

This is not a scenario that would EVER have happened in small-town Southern USA in the 1800s.

This man was ridiculous. He was abusive. And there is a difference between taking pride in doing things for yourself, and living in abject poverty for NO reason other than evangelical Christianity.

If you cannot already tell: by the time I decided to give up on this one I was absolutely furious. I was upset. I was incredulous we were supposed to think the HEROINE was the baddie in this situation.

I’ve read some BRILLIANT Love Inspired Historical books. I’ve read some good ones. I’ve read some disasters.

However, I’m sure I’ve never before read one that glorified spousal abuse in the name of Jesus.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Coming up for Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Spring, the third instalment in Lisa Kleypas Victorian-era Ravenels series, will be released later this month.

Despite the God-awful 21st century prom queen cover, I have high hopes for this book.

Plus, the British/Australian cover is much better (even if the gown is a few decades out of date for the time the book is set!):

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

Devil in Spring can be pre-ordered:

The Book Depository has free shipping:

US Version

British Version

Also Here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Australia

Amazon Canada

Canberra fourteen years ago.

Capital life and random beauty…

How appropriate that it’s near 40 degrees and windy today, just like fourteen years ago, when huge parts of Canberra were destroyed in a firestorm. It was the first time a fire tornado was recorded.

It hit my part of the city, and we were very lucky the helicopters were dropping water just before our house. People a couple of streets away were not so fortunate, and the fire came straight down the mountain and destroyed everything in sight.

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One Grand Season (A Willowbrook Manor Romance Book 2) by Sarita Leone

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Vivian Fox may be the Gregory family’s poor relation, but she won’t be forced into a marriage with a man who does not capture her heart. One grand Season– a taste of the good life—is all she wants. But, as fate would have it, she gets much more than she bargained for.

One Grand Season (A Willowbrook Manor Romance Book 2) by Sarita Leone

There are some great ideas here, and the Cinderella-ish theme has its appeal (as it’s done here, with evil secondary female characters more in the background). However, all the research mistakes really got to me in the end.

I did also like that the story did NOT in any way go in the direction I expected.

For a quick read some readers might be frustrated by the lack of time hero and heroine actually spend together, but I didn’t care too much.

On the other hand, there’s a point in this genre where too many liberties can be taken with historical behaviour and a reader is left with modern characters in pretty outfits.

In the case of One Grand Season, it’s the little things that gradually chip away until you don’t have much of the 19th century left.

The duke’s heir who introduces himself to low-ranking people with his Christian name…

The poor seamstress who somehow gets herself invited to be a houseguest of a duke and a duchess…

The duchess who thinks associating with people so poor they are socially beneath half her servants is just delightful…

The heroine who doesn’t know the names of vehicles people used in her time…

The made-up region of England called “Stropshire”, which is really just the real county of Shropshire with a spelling mistake. It’s no different to setting the book in the United States and having a heroine come from the imaginary place named “Yew Nork”.

The heroine whose best gown is from some sort of 1810s bargain bin at the dress shop…

The terms of address for the aristocracy that are incorrect…

The confusion about what constitutes the Season, and what time of the year it actually happened…

This book is going to work better for people with less idea of how Regency society worked than it did for me.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Ruby (Landry #1) by V.C. Andrews

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In the heart of the bayou, Ruby Landry lives a simple, happy life. But innocence can’t last forever…

The only family Ruby Landry has ever known are her loving guardian, Grandmère Catherine, a Cajun spiritual healer, and her drunken, outcast Grandpère Jack. Although thinking about her dead mother and mysterious father sometimes makes her feel as mournful as the wind sighing through the Spanish moss, Ruby is grateful for all she has. Her life is filled with hope and promise…especially when her attraction for handsome Paul Tate blossoms into a mysterious, wonderful love. But Paul’s wealthy parents forbid him to associate with a poor Landry, and Grandmère urges her to follow her dream of becoming a great painter, foreseeing a time when Ruby will be surrounded with riches in the dazzling city of New Orleans! Yet she cannot know how close that uncertain future looms….

In a faded photograph, Ruby glimpses for the first time the image of her father — and learns of a shameful deception and a shocking scheme of blackmail that now must come to light. Stunned by these revelations, she is devastated when Grandmère dies, leaving her to seek out her father in his vast New Orleans mansion. There, in a house of lies, madness, and cruel torment, Ruby clings to her memories of Paul to keep her heart alive. For only their love can save her now….

Ruby (Landry #1) by V.C. Andrews

Oh, the melodrama!

I don’t know why, but I decided to revisit some books I haven’t gone near for a few decades. I couldn’t quite bring myself to pick up the infamous (and incestuous) Flowers in the Attic again, so I went for a book written by the ghost writer who took over the V C Andrews franchise after Virginia Andrews’ death.

These are big, old-school family sagas, about rich families in the US South.

Written a few decades ago, and set a few decades before that, my first big shock when I began my reread was how young these characters are! The PARENTS of these characters are my age, and in Ruby our narrator (yes, this is in the first person – I’d forgotten that, too) is fifteen.

I honestly thought she’d be in her twenties.

There are clichés galore, which is – I’m sure – why these books hold so much appeal to teenagers. The evil characters are really evil. All the female characters are either downtrodden Cinderellas or nasty, jealous, scheming bitches.

Anything sex-related is of the she resisted, but really wanted it variety, which is a relic of the past in fiction written these days.

The ghost writer is a man, and I can tell that by the way some of the female characters are written. Mind you, there are some female New Adult authors these days who manage just as much casual misogyny.

For all of the clichés, I raced through this book. It’s like watching a soap opera. What a pity the author reached his word limit and rushed through the most exciting parts at the end.

However, I’m not sure how many more vindictive monster characters I can take (and I’m pretty certain the heroine ends up marrying her half-brother at some point). Not sure I’ll be rereading this series through to the end.