August 19, 2015
We want light and fluffy - we want light and fluffy - we want light and fluffy - sorry.
Alyssa Everett has presented us with a dark book which has two leads who are really hard to like. The Marriage Act is a difficult book to review, but you really should give it a try. For
some of you this book may be a wall-banger, but for others you will be mesmerized by the really lonnnng struggle to the happy ending. I have to be honest: while I love Ms. Everett's prose, the couple in this book gave me a headache.
A marriage gone rotten is one of my favorite tropes. There are so many directions an author can go in when choosing this plot. Ms. Everett chose a hard path: she made both the hero and heroine very unlikeable, and then she had to fix them. Did she succeed? In my opinion, almost. Let's look at that almost.
When John, Viscount Welford, is twenty-six he falls in love with the beautiful seventeen-year-old Caroline Fleetwood, daughter of the Bishop of Essex. He proposes, she accepts, they marry, they consummate the wedding, she runs away, he chases after her, finds her, puts her in his house and leaves for Vienna, where he stays for five years. He returns to England, Caroline finds him and pleads with him to travel with her to the country and pretend to be a loving husband. You see, her father is dying and she has been lying to her father for five years, writing to him, telling him that she and John are happily married in Vienna. She wants her father's last days to be free of any stress. Because John has always held the Bishop in high esteem he agrees to Caroline's hair-brained scheme and we are off on a road trip.
Now, unlike a lot of Romanceville road trips, this one is not fun. John and Caroline fight constantly. They insult, they belittle, they deliberately hurt each other, and they misunderstand one another. John is holding a big-time grudge against Caroline. He doesn't trust her, he doesn't believe a word she says. And, he's right. He has a reason for the distrust - and she's a liar. What he ever saw in her, I'll never know. I arrived at the conclusion that he fell in love with his fantasy of what he thought Caroline was. However, he is still in love with her - I could never figure that out. Why he would still love this woman was beyond me. Caroline is just as bad. She just cannot see any good in John. She berates him constantly. She is just an all-round unpleasant person. As a couple, these two were terrible to watch. But I couldn't turn away. I had to keep on reading to see how Ms. Everett resolved their biiiggg problems.
This was an interesting read for a number of reasons. Caroline and John's constant bickering was awful to watch. On Caroline's part, the meanness lasted too long. By the end of the story I still had my doubts that their marriage would ever last. If Caroline had her turn around just a little sooner I think I would have bought into their HEA, but she waited too long for me. Overall, this was a difficult book to read, with difficult, selfish people. Even though I developed a headache from the constant battles in this book I have to say I also appreciated how difficult the story must have been to write. Ms. Everett didn't take the easy way out when she tackled this storyline. So, I will continue to read Ms. Everett's books and look for exciting and different things coming from her pen. In the end, this story left me unsettled and that was not because of the writing, but because of Caroline and John.
Time/Place: Regency England
Caroline and John: C-