The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage by Marguerite Kaye
This is the fourth book in the Penniless Brides of Convenience series and possibly the one I’ve been looking forward to the most: Kate, Lady Elmswood, is the surrogate mother and mentor to the heroines of the first three books, her own convenient marriage with an absentee husband the model the other women aim for (and fail dismally, but that’s three entirely different stories). Now, Kate’s husband Daniel, the man she spent all of a few days with eleven years ago, is home recuperating after a mission he was on for the government went awry and he was tossed into a prison far from home.
Daniel cuts an unsympathetic character for much of the first half of the book despite his injuries; yes, he’s something of a hero having served his country with obvious distinction, and yes, his decision to give Kate the convenient marriage she requested all those years ago benefited her a lot more than him, but his desire to just get the heck out again makes him seem pretty selfish, especially since he’s apparently happy to flirt with Kate and risk breaking her heart into the bargain. It takes a while to realize that Daniel is in hiding; he’s got major avoidance issues going on from a disastrous childhood and having been literally groomed by a predator at a vulnerable age, something he doesn’t even recognize himself until late in the book when he has to confront his past and the reasons for his father’s actions sending him away.
Kate does some soul-searching of her own, coming to understand that she has her own life to live now her wards are all settled, and having to make some decisions about what she wants to do. Her decision to make a change in her life and Daniel’s determination to return to his work made me wonder how on earth they could find a happy ending together, but as they work through their issues, a path eventually emerges.
This isn’t always an easy read. Kate’s frustration was at times palpable; after eleven years of managing capably on her own, Daniel’s return throws her into an emotional turmoil she doesn’t know how to handle, and his complete inability to deal with his own feelings leaves them both floundering for quite a while. It’s not until they both face up to everything in their pasts which led to their current situations that they find a way forward together.
Marguerite Kaye does a delightful job of weaving in historical events and personages to make her stories more realistic, and this book is no exception. You’ll find an interesting little author’s note at the end detailing several things she drew on to create Kate and Daniel’s backstories and indeed create a plausible happy ending for them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, and look forward to seeing what the author plans to write next! Five stars for a great read.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title from the author.