Married in Haste by Cathy Maxwell
Series: Marriage #1
Publication Date: November 14th 2006
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A scandalous gamble . . .
With her exceptional beauty, heiress Tess Hamlin has been dubbed "the Incomparable" by the lords of the ton. Though she can have her pick of suitors, Tess has no desire to wed. She'd rather delight in the intoxicating effect she has on men when she enters a room. But when she makes a daring wager and must secure a marriage proposal in one evening, she plays a dangerous charade with the first man who's ever set her pulse racing.
Leads to the most unexpected passion . . .
As the new, impoverished Earl of Merton, Brenn Owen needs to find a wealthy wife—and fast. He can think of no better woman than Tess. She's stunning, intriguing— and rich! Utterly captivated by Tess, Brenn vows to have her. When news of Tess's wager breaks, her brother, who hopes to avoid the ensuing scandal, accepts Brenn's offer to marry his sister—much to Tess's dismay. Now will a marriage made in haste lead to disaster . . . or the most blissful desire?
This book is the perfect example of how good writing and interesting characters can make up for plot devices that are generally avoided. It features one of my most hated plot devices: The Big Misunderstanding
I think that blurb sucks, so I’m writing my own.
Warning: Mild Plot Spoilers Below!!
Tess is the most sought after women of the ton. Even though she’s been out for several seasons, she’s beautiful, has a large fortune and for the most part, she’s been allowed to run wild. While at a ball, she makes a bet with the other diamond of the first water for the season to see who can be the first to receive a marriage proposal that evening.
Tess sets her sights on Brenn Owens, an Earl from Welsh who has just come to town, not realizing that he’s there in search of a bride…a wealthy one. And he’s set his sights on her, too. When the matchmaking mama’s at the ball catch wind of the bet (which also involved several other ladies of the ton), Tess’s older brother and guardian, says he’s had enough and agrees to a betrothal between Brenn and Tess, despite Tess’s refusal (she didn’t really want to marry him, she just wanted the proposal).
What Tess doesn’t know however, is…her fortune is gone. Her brother claims to have invested all of it in an Italian inventor and lost every last cent. All 50,000 pounds of it. Crushed and desperate to help her brother, Tess reluctantly agrees to the marriage. But her brother makes her promise that she won’t tell Brenn the truth about her fortune until they’re well settled together.
As they travel to Brenn’s estate, Tess falls in love with Brenn, but fears what will happen when he finds out about her fortune, never realizing that he’s only married her for his money. For Brenn’s part, he seems to be coming to care for Tess and doesn’t want to tell her what a state of disrepair his estate is in, so he decides it will be best if he let’s her see for herself.
And this, well this is where I started liking the book. Hard to believe since the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING plots generally drive me insane. Especially when the hero or heroine (or both) are keeping things from the other.
You know what saved this novel for me? Tess. Rather than running back to London with her maid, or falling into hysterics or even wallowing in self-pity, she decides to stick it out and do what she can to help Brenn and his village.
That very night – after she kicks Brenn out of the house – she comes up with a plan to raise the money they need. Then sets out to make nice with villagers and learn to care for herself. It was wonderful watching her find herself and seeing Brenn fall all over himself to please her as he watches her change.
Plus, she shut Brenn out of bed and didn’t let him back in, which was a refreshing change.
I really enjoyed Brenn, too. He was such a typical man, saying things without thinking of how they really sounded. It was really cute how he decided to buy Tess’ love back by sending her flowers, etc, though I love that Tess didn’t cave in. It was a treat when he realized what he’d done and that it needed to be fixed.
The only thing I truly hated about this book was Tess’ brother. Though we don’t see much of him in person, it finally becomes clear that he isn’t the person Tess thought he was. That was so frustrating to read about, because Tess so wanted to believe in him. My biggest regret in this novel is that he didn’t get his just deserts.
Otherwise, it was a great read. The beginning frustrated me, but I found myself sucked in despite my issues with the plot, and I’m very happy I stuck it out.
4 out of 5
The series is as follows: