Historical romance heroines come with a variety of faults: excessive naiveté, outrageous independence, lack of acceptable breeding. It isn’t every day you read about a heroine who is too practical.
Now, sometimes practicality can cause one to take a rash action. Like, say, arranging for it to look like you’ve died only hours after taking wedding vows. But what else can an untitled, not-yet-of-age woman do after she’s forced into a marriage she knows will fail?
That’s the central story in Madeline Hunter’s “Provocative in Pearls.” Hunter’s protagonists are two people who have allowed logic to lead them into a messy situation, and, lucky for us, only passion, emotion, and a few extorted kisses will lead them out of it. The result is a beguiling blend of sensuality and angst.
Verity Thompson grew up knowing her future. She’d marry a man who could take over her father’s ironworks and live happily in her hometown. But her father died suddenly, leaving Verity in the care of a greedy, abusive cousin who conspired to marry her off to a poor peer.
Taking matters into her own hands, Verity ran away on her wedding day, leaving behind evidence that she had drowned. She has been in hiding ever since, with plans to reenter the world after her twenty-first birthday to petition for an annulment and take back control of her father’s business from her cousin.
Grayson, Earl of Hawkeswell has been living in a terrible limbo since his bride disappeared. Not only have the funds promised upon his marriage been tied up in legalities, making it impossible for him to care for his family and tenants, but he has been a favorite topic of gossip. When he discovers Verity completely by chance, he is overjoyed that this terrible situation will finally be set to rights.
Except Verity is not willing to live as his wife, and she is no longer the meek girl he wed. She is strong, clever, articulate, and fiercely attached to her independence. Hawkeswell is equally adamant that they will stay together, and he’s shocked to realize that this is not just because of her wealth. The truth is that he is instantly and thoroughly attracted to her.
He aims to seduce her, demanding three kisses a day while they are married. Verity has never felt desire before, and she forgets herself in the face of Hawkeswell’s handsome face, maddening caresses, and domineering masculinity. Yet Verity firmly believes that a man such as this would never let her live the life she was meant to, while Hawkeswell is frustrated by his young wife’s refusal to give in to her feelings and submit to his authority.
Hunter weaves a tale where the characters’ sense of duty is in conflict with their passion, where their heads are at war with their hearts. Despite their feelings for each other, Verity and Hawkeswell truly want different things from their lives, and the resulting love story is all the more rich and moving because of this. You'll wonder how in the world these two people can overcome what’s standing in their way as a couple.
So, want to know if Verity and Hawkeswell will live happily ever after? To find out if they do, you’ll have to --
Buy the Book.
What are your favorite romances where the hero and heroine are married but not in love? And why do think it’s so darned romantic to read about a wife and husband who fall for each other?
***Get Set for Valentine's Day with RBTB Team & Friends:
Tomorrow: Feel the Love; Feel the Food as "The Food Temptress" author Rekaya Gibson treats us to a funny/sexy tribute to the Romance of Food, one we all can relate to w/ a smile. Win a copy of Rekaya's read.
Wednesday: Zombie cuisine may not be as romantic as Rekaya's, but Amy Kennedy's got the deets on kinder/gentler zombie fare from "My Zombie Valentine."
Friday: If you read one romance to get you in the Love-Day mood, Becke Davis tells you why Kristan Higgins' "The Next Best Thing" is the one to choose. Win a copy of the book!