The Earl's Countess of Convenience by Marguerite Kaye
The earl in question’s need for a convenient bride is based on a fallacy (no, earldoms can’t be entailed away if the heir isn’t married by some arbitrary age) but the author rather adorably admits they know that and used it for a plot device anyway because, you know, fiction, so I’m inclined to give it a pass. Other than that this is a really well-researched story with some nice historically accurate details in there to help the reader’s suspension of disbelief.
Eloise and Alexander both have dreadful parents who have thoroughly soured them on the idea of love and marriage, though Eloise’s were more emotionally abusive and Alexander’s both emotional and physical, so it seems entirely logical to both of them that a marriage of convenience without physical entanglements would work. To the reader, it’s obvious from their first meeting and the sparks of attraction flying that the attempt is doomed to failure, though to innocent Eloise, it’s not obvious at all. I have to say I’d have thought Alexander to be a bit more worldly-wise and a bit more inclined to step back and think, but he was the one under a time constraint so had to make the decision quickly.
Overall this is a nice pairing with a slow-build of passion between the two main characters, side characters relegated off stage so they didn’t detract from the drama between the protagonists, which worked very well. I did get frustrated with Alexander’s obtuseness a few times and his boss Marcus frankly needs a woman to break his heart and show him the error of his ways, but a thoroughly enjoyable story. Four and a half stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the author.