St Martin’s Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-98281-X
Historical Romance, 2004
Victoria Redmond, an American heiress, and the duke John Spencer Whitfield’s marriage of eight weeks are breaking down. She came to him after being compromised by an evil villain, and now that she’s pregnant, things can’t be any worse. For Spencer, it galls him that he has to marry for money. When he refuses to acknowledge Victoria’s kid as his should the baby be a son born without the Spencer birthmark, she flees England for her less-than-welcoming family in Georgia. Spencer follows her, out of outrage and fury that she disobeyed his orders to stay put like a good doggie than out of concern, and the author then piles on the damsel-in-distress scenes as if the hero rescuing the heroine will be a strong enough resolution to save this marriage.
Whatever the author’s strengths are as a writer, if To Make a Marriage is anything to go by, she can’t create a decent story fuelled on internal conflicts unless she learns to be less transparent in her plotting. Victoria isn’t exactly a doormat, good for her, but the author stacks the odds against her so blatantly that I know at once that Victoria has no choice but to submit to her husband out of necessity. Likewise, the author’s transparent use of miscommunication issues and Victoria going too-stupid on everyone are far from amusing.
The artificial internal conflicts are made worse by an equally pedestrian and predictable external conflict. The author’s writing style leaves much to be desired as well: conversations can be long and stilted until the characters come off like making a speech instead of conversing normally. Most annoying is the constant repetition of names or nicknames in every single line of a conversation whenever the mood hits the author. After the millionth time her brother calls Victoria “Sister” in just as many lines of conversations, I am more than ready to test the durability and resistance to cracks of the new paint on my wall by hammering the spine of this book against the wall repeatedly.
Its numerous flaws break rather than make To Make a Marriage. Please try a little harder the next time around to be less contrived in the plotting, Ms Porter.