Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-93257-7
Historical Romance, 2017
I was initially terrified of reading Elizabeth Rolls’s His Convenient Marchioness because of the synopsis on the back blurb. That synopsis makes our widowed heroine Lady Emma Lacy seem like one of those impoverished heroines who will rather die than to marry for money, even if it means dragging her two children down with her. As it turns out, things aren’t so bad, at least for the first handful of pages.
Our heroine married her now dead hubby in defiance of their feuding fathers, so they lived in genteel penury. But that’s okay, she had her hubby, she was happy, and romance heroines could subside on happiness alone, as well know. Well, the husband is now dead, and the bills started piling up as a result. Also, the female brat is ill and needs her medicines. I’m surprised the author didn’t throw in sick dogs and our heroine still needing to feed the street children despite barely able to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, our hero, the fifty-year old Giles, Marquess of Huntercombe, is a widower who now needs an heir after the untimely death of his brother. He balks at the idea of marrying young debutantes (or virgins, as the author puts it, because we all know debutantes, especially those romance heroine ones, always wait until marriage before putting out to guys they barely know), so when he bumps into Emma and her kids in a bookstore, he finds himself charmed despite himself by the way she fusses over her kids and, of course, her hotness. So he approaches her with an offer of marriage.
At first, Emma decides to agree because of the kids. I relax, telling myself how silly I am to initially believe that synopsis on the back cover. Here is a heroine who… oh. After being visited by her mother, she takes it upon herself to reject Hunt’s offer because he will be ruined if he decided to marry her! He would be obligated to protect her and, hence, harm his reputation, standing, and possibly even his life! Screw it, her daughter can die or grow up to be a prostitute, who cares – Mommy wants to be the heroine of her own tragic melodrama, and that is all that matters. Emma cannot in good conscience let some guy she has just met ruin himself. Mind you, there is no guarantee that he will be ruined, but there’s no stopping a romance heroine when she decides to be a martyr.
Fortunately, the brats of our heroine are spared from being future hoodlums and whores when Emma’s father-in-law decides that, now that he needs an heir, that male brat of hers will do, so someone please wrap that thing up and deliver it to his place, thanks very much. Oh, wrap the sister up too. Emma is horrified! So she rushes off to Hunt… to apologize to him for this new scandal potentially being bothersome to him.
Oh god, in a way, the person who wrote the back cover synopsis actually portrayed the heroine as smarter than she actually is. I have to apologize for thinking badly of that person for that one short period of time while I am reading this story.
The rest of the story treads in familiar territory. Emma is determined to be noble and selfless, even if it means crippling her own happiness, dooming her daughter to either an early grave or death by prostitution in later years, and worse, when she’s not crying and weeping because her life is messed up and, sadly, being a martyr letting life sodomize her in every orifice somehow isn’t making her happy. Hunt, in the meantime, diligently tracks down who is trying to kill her and kidnap her children (gee, I wonder who will do that), when he’s not giving Emma lots of sexy comforting. So, in the end, the kids get to live in genteel happiness with financial security and what not for life, Emma gets a man to think and make decisions for her, and Hunt gets… er, a wife and a family. No thanks to our heroine who doesn’t do much to earn her happy ending, of course, and I still think Hunt ends up getting far less than Emma from this true love thing.
If you love stories by Mary Balogh and the other usual suspects, you may like His Convenient Marchioness far more than me. This one has the same rescue fantasy old song and dance that will do well as a comfort read if you fit the profile. Me, I just worry that when Hunt dies in ten years or so, our heroine will find a way to lose all that money, and the two brats may just eventually end up on the streets selling their rear ends for pennies after all. Romance heroines can be such a menace to polite society, I tell you.