by Lucy Monroe, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-539-X
Poor Laird Ian MacKay, the Earl of Graenfrae. His stepfather the Earl of Lansing left a will stipulating that Ian will only get his hands on his inheritance if he marries an Englishwoman within the year. Still, the London season begins next month so Ian has better get moving if he needs the money to improve his holdings and more. Ian decides that he should look for a wife who is "plain", "modestly dowered", and "older" than he is, and has "practicality". Since divorce is not allowed under the conditions of the will, I wonder how he expects any "practical" woman to agree to marry him under such circumstance. Then again, I've learned never to underestimate the stupidity of the main characters in a historical romance. He sets his eyes on Lady Annabelle.
Lady Annabelle is called "the Ordinary" during her first Season and as the years pass and she's now 24, she's resigned to being a spinster. However, while Ian believes that Annabelle is practical rather than romantic, she yearns for a man who views her as beautiful and loves her to the end, the usual. Is Ian that person? When he tells her that she meets his requirements and asks her whether she can be settled in Scotland as his wife within a month, she is understandably upset. However, as the following paragraph illustrates, I don't think Annabelle knows what she wants:
The words stung her bruised heart like a thousand embroidery needles pricking the message that he did not love her, would never love her. He found her so unremarkable that Ian had no doubt of his success. Resolve beat against her bleeding heart. Ian would soon learn that not all things were as they seemed. Not all bluestocking spinsters longed for wedlock, especially those who had read Wollstonecraft.
If Ian says he loves her, she's probably pathetic enough to believe him and marry him in a heartbeat, but because he's honest with her, she decides to play the feminist bluestocking who doesn't want to get married? Who is she trying to fool?
"I may not be a beauty, but I do expect to be courted and I will only marry the man that convinces me I cannot live without him." Her voice vibrated with emotion she wanted to suppress.
See? She does want to get married. Desperately so.
This story has Annabelle getting involved with the feminist movement of her time, but it's all lip service as deep down Annabelle is as traditional as they come with all thoughts of the suffragist movement flying out of her head in the end because she finally has what she wanted: a man who loves her. Meanwhile, the two characters behave in a bizarre manner throughout the story, with my favorite being that Ian starts withdrawing from Annabelle because she lied to her about the fortune she has that she didn't tell him before they were married. These two talk, so it's not as if they are misunderstanding each other. It's just that they don't talk about the right things and as a result they often behave like silly children towards each other.
Annabelle's Courtship will be a better read if the characters don't behave erratically so often and the author hasn't insulted my intelligence by trying to pass Annabelle off as a suffragist.
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