by Beth Andrews, regency (1999)
Regency Press, $4.95, ISBN 1-929085-01-X
Phoebe Bridgerton thinks her brother-in-law is insufferable, a prig, a stubborn mule, and he probably has a ten-inch pole stuck up his rear end. Charles Hargood thinks that her brother's widow is a hoyden, impulsive, a harridan, and not at all his sort.
So what happens when they inadvertently compromised each other and are forced to marry?
Ms Andrews have a way with humor and I must admit Phoebe and Charles have great chemistry at their quiet moments. That is, when they are not taking turns acting out of character.
The Marplot Marriage is one of those books that starts out a keeper but start going downhill from thereon. The characters just don't seem to have any consistent personality. When compromised, Phoebe, in an impulsive fit to humiliate Charles, only dig her own matrimonial grave deeper. She doesn't think, she tells me later, feeling sorry for herself.
Fair enough; shock does weird things to people after all. But then Phoebe starts doing strange, bizarre - if amusing - things like pretending to be pregnant to scare Charles' stuffy aunt. Never mind that this will only jeopardize their tale of a grand love affair that they told everyone as a reason for their marriage. And when things go well, Charles start acting funny, getting all horny over the mistress of Phoebe's late hubby only to change his mind at the last moment. Too bad, guess who saw them walking into the gardens.
Charles' behavior comes out of the blue and doesn't fit in his character. This strange turn of events isn't even explained adequately. When Big Misunderstanding looms its ugly head, I really start to get a headache.
Phoebe and Charles take turns to act strange. When Scene I ends with Phoebe getting all practical, Scene II has Charles getting dotty. Change roles in Scene III when Phoebe gets dotty all over again. At the end of the day, I'm just too befuddled to appreciate the fine humor present in The Marplot Marriage. This book needs some tighter characterization.
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