This book’s setting is in England, some time in the early 1800s.
Lord Ian Sutcombe knew his stepmother had been running through the family fortunes and selling everything worth anything but he had no idea it was as bad as his man of business, Mr Foster tells him. Ian is bankrupt and the only way to restore the family homes and pay his debts is to marry well. As no member of the ton would even think to let their daughter marry a penniless peer, even one with an old title, Ian has Mr Foster look to the well to do merchant class for a suitable bride.
Mr Foster finds 3 eligible young ladies for Ian to take a look at. The first looked Ian over like he was a horse and the second couldn’t put a simple sentence together and giggled every time someone looked at her. Ian wasn’t expecting much more from the 3rd young lady, Hannah Leeds.
Hannah is the daughter of a prosperous merchant. She’s slightly depressed due to a broken love affair. She truly thought Timothy loved her otherwise she wouldn’t have let him do the things she let him do. When her father decided it was time to find her a husband, Hannah agreed knowing that if she married a peer, her sisters would have a better chance of marrying well. Hannah’s well educated and though not beautiful, is fairly pretty.
It’s agreed that Hannah and Ian will marry. The contracts are signed and the date picked. Neither really knows the other but weekly letters are exchanged. While waiting on their wedding date, Ian works on repairing his family homes to their former glory. Hannah is busy planning the wedding.
Both realize that the ton will not readily accept Hannah. She was to struggle for acceptance. It doesn’t help that Ian’s stepmother decides that she wants more and now that Ian has more, she’s determined to make him share. She enlists the aid of Timothy and works on spreading rumors against Hannah. Without trust, can Ian believe that Hannah doesn’t want to return to Timothy?
Will they ever be able to learn to love each other and forget the bargain that was made or will it always stand between them? Hannah wants children but how can she have them if Ian doesn’t seem to want to join her in bed? Will they ever be able to express not only what they want but their needs without the other taking offense?
This book addresses the problems with a marriage of strangers. They don’t look at each other and fall madly in love. They don’t assume that the other has the same values and morals as they do. There are problems and issues. The biggest one is trust. How can you believe what someone you don’t really know tells you to be true? Though Ian and Hannah are attracted to each other, they have problems expressing this. After all, they didn’t marry for love and neither wants the other to feel obligated. As Ian and Hannah struggle to make their marriage work and work through the problems their marriage has, their feelings towards each other changes but can they risk telling the other?
Characters act as if they were truly in this time era. Members of the ton don’t realize that they talk down to people when they observe that they are less than them. After all, it’s just the truth. They also don’t readily accept anyone outside their little world. Merchants did look to marry off their daughters to peers. This way their family status would be elevated. The merchants also knew that if they attended functions with their daughters, their daughters would never be accepted into polite society. The description of the people attending the theater was excellent. Everyone was dress in their best but each class of society had their own place to set, the poorest towards the stage and the most well to do in boxes above the main floor.
The story while pretty much predictable was well done. There weren’t many surprises but the story moved along without dragging. The characters were likable and the situations believable. It wasn’t outstanding but it was enjoyable to read. There were no torrid sex scenes but there were gentle love ones. Overall, it was a good historical romance novel.