When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

January 21, 2014

Epilogue:  a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work. (Webster)

I'll start at the ending first. If ever a book screamed out for an epilogue, When the Marquess Met His Match does. You know sometimes those epilogues are just downright silly, all those spy/brothers/best friends/schoolmates/cousins/sisters/families/clans getting together for one big ol’ picnic with the thousands of children chasing butterflies and the litter of puppies from the funny dog who appeared in the book. Sometimes, it's just too much and a lot of times I will skip the epilogue. But I really needed it in this book! There were some ends that needed to be tied, some openings that needed to be closed. Now, let's look at the rest of the book.

Ever since I read Connor's Way back in 1996, Laura Lee Guhrke has been on my list of auto-buy authors. Considering that Connor's Way is an American-Western-post Civil War romance, that's saying a lot. Usually, I can count on Ms. Guhrke to deliver some mighty fine writing along with some really well-developed characters. Sad to say, this book didn't quite live up to the strong prose I have come to expect from Ms. Guhrke. 

I'm not sure why the story didn't work. It had all the ingredients for a clever story and a wonderful couple. There is Lady Belinda Featherstone, a matchmaker of sorts. She is making a living at matching American heiresses to English titles. (Even though her marriage to a lorded gentleman was a failure, she is still trying to hook couples up.) Then we have Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge, who has just had his funds cut off my his father and is in need of some cash...you see, he needs to eat. He is also rumored to be quite a womanizer, which is too bad for him and his association with Belinda. You see, Belinda's husband was a bad-egg and even though she doesn't know Nicholas, she knows of him and as far as she is concerned, he is from the same mold as her late husband. This is a problem because Nicholas has come to Belinda for help in finding a wife and there is no way Belinda is going to throw any young thing in Nicholas' path. Too bad for both of them that Nicholas is instantly smitten by Belinda...or should I say lusting for Belinda. And, this is where I have my problem with this story. Oh, not the instantaneous combustion - that happens all the time in romance books. It's just that I didn't feel the heat between the two. I was told there was heat, but I couldn't find it in the words of the book. 

There were a lot of "could have been" moments in the book. There could have been some really funny parts. The heiresses Belinda picks for Nicholas are just horrendous, and those moments could have been really fun, but the "horrible heiresses" moments were given short shrift. Belinda's initial reaction of publicizing Nicholas' dilemma was another moment that just sort of drifted away. Nicholas could have been really outraged with Belinda for that particular trick, but that also goes nowhere, other than to utter a Daffy Duck "this means war" statement. In my mind, when Nicholas uttered those words I saw all types of comedic events rolling out for me. Never happened.

There were some moments, especially with Nicholas, that I found nice. I found Nicholas to be a wholly sympathetic character, even with his cold-blooded need to marry money. I think part of this was due to his simply horrible father, who had Nicholas under his thumb forever. Ms. Guhrke has done a great job of showing us that Nicholas is the man he is due to his father's domination. If his father says black, Nicholas says white and while he says that he isn't under his father's control, just the acts of constant disobedience over the years have put him under his father's thumb. There was a great scene in which Belinda scolds Nicholas for allowing this to happen. That moment is a real eye-opener for him and one of the best moments in the book. Actually, now that I think about it, if his horrible father hadn't forced the issue, Nicholas would have been content to just go with the flow.

I do like the time period. This story isn't set in the good old Regency, but at a time when standards were a little less stringent. Even though I was disappointed in the first book in the American Heiress series, I will be interested in the next book in the series, which I believe is about Edie and Stuart, who happen to be one of Belinda's earlier matrimonial "successes." Although, I'm not sure success is the correct word, considering the couple aren't living together. There was also another character, Rosalie, who was rather young, but had the makings of a heroine. She seemed to have a very vulnerable side to her, so I'm hoping Ms. Guhrke writes a story about her. I'm also hoping that Ms. Guhrke writes epilogues in her next few books.

And, by the way, if you have never read Connor's Way, now is the time. It has been re-released to electronic format and since it is a good example of a lovely first book, it's one everyone should read.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality: Hot


nath said...

Hi Kay! Seems like I enjoyed the book more than you did. I think part of it is because I do think this book was better than Ms Guhrke last couple of releases... Plus, it's been a while.

I did like the time period and there were some good exchanges between Belinda and Nicholas.

SidneyKay said...

Hey Nath! Yes, I do like the time period, I think it allows the author more freedom. I am always double double disappointed when it is a favorite author whose book I'm not fond of. Hoping the next one with the married couple is better...always like marriages in trouble.

nath said...

I know what you mean about a favorite author. However, I think because they are favorite authors, our expectations are even higher :( Ah well. The next one sounds good :)

SidneyKay said...

Nath: I agree, my expectations are very high on my authors that I've read for a long time. There are some that I read for years and years. I go through one so-so book after another waiting for the next good one. Because the next good one is always really good. It takes a lot of mediocre books for me to give up on an author and I'm no where close with Ms. Guhrke...although there are a few of my auto-buys I'm thinking about saying goodbye to. I have the habit of still buying their books and not reading them...I feel guilty if I don't support them financially.