A Most Unsuitable Groom
Kasey Michaels is back with the Romney Marsh series. This time it’s the loner Spencer’s turn at love. This is not only the first of the series that I have read, but my first Kasey Michaels book, period. Despite the low grade for this one, I won’t write off the author just yet. I’d like to try again, and I would like to see how the rest of Becket clan fair in years to come.
Spencer Becket longs for adventure and so enlists in the Army hoping to fight Napoleon on the Continent. Instead he is sent to North America for that ongoing conflict. Spencer is left wounded after a particularly nasty battle and it is Mariah Rutledge who saves him and his fellow officers.
Mariah’s father died shortly before she stumbled upon Spencer and his group. Knowing that she is the only one with the skills and clear head to get them to safety, she does. One night when a tragedy strikes the group, Mariah and Spencer turn to each other for comfort, which results in a baby. Before either of them knows of the situation, Spencer returns to England. Once back across the pond, Spencer recovers fully and has no memory of the time between the battle and returning home – and no memory of Mariah. That is until she tracks him down and promptly gives birth to his son the same night she arrives.
At first Spencer is unwilling to believe he fathered a child with Mariah. He thinks he would definitely remember her no matter what. He soon sees the error of his ways and comes to terms with fatherhood…and his upcoming marriage to Mariah.
I enjoyed the book very much up to this point. Spencer and Mariah are both attractive characters in both body and spirit. The pair possesses enough angst and conflict to make this quite a nice read. The large Becket family injects just enough humor to balance out the turmoil between the leads. And then, in the middle of a rather nice love story, comes a plot straight out of James Bond, including boats, spies, bad guys from the past, and numerous other kinds of subterfuge. Why, Ms. Michaels, why?
For anyone not familiar with the Beckets of Romney Marsh, they are somewhat reformed privateers known to lend a helping hand to the local smuggling outfits in their part of Cornwall. A figure from the past has emerged and is a threat to the Beckets’ anonymity. The Beckets want to be rid of him and in the process, get involved in trying to thwart a plan to return the exiled Napoleon to power. Spencer wants to make a fresh start with his new family in America, but feels he owes something to his family before he leaves. This mission is his way of earning a new life for himself.
I would say Mariah is “spirited” for the first half of the book. Sadly, she is downright “feisty” once The Intrigue – as I dub it – begins. The author makes a big to-do over the fact that Mariah is unable to nurse her new baby. I thought this a little fishy, all the mentions of a wet nurse and Mariah’s inability, but then – Aha! – she stows away on Spencer’s voyage to France in order to aid him in The Intrigue. It all becomes clear now. Yes, of course, leave your small infant in the care of the family you’ve known for only a few weeks so you can prove yourself a worthy Becket bride. Isn’t this included in the definition of “feisty”? Even worse, she does it again when it is more than evident she is not needed.
It really is a shame that A Most Unsuitable Groom took this turn for the worse. There is enough conflict and chemistry between the leads to make this a delightful character driven novel. Kasey Michaels definitely has the writing chops to make this happen. I had my hopes set for a quick resolution of The Intrigue so the story could focus on Mariah and Spencer once again. It didn’t happen. The action and adventure held out to the end, forcing a quick declaration of love. I felt I was only just starting the story of Mariah and Spencer at that point. They clearly did not work out the issues that lay between them as a couple and have far to go.
A good beginning and solid framework for characters is not enough for a recommendation, however. I am not averse to action and adventure in my romance reads, but there has to be a balance and A Most Unsuitable Groom leaned too heavily to one side of the equation. Fanny and Rian’s story is up next, according to the teaser in my copy of the book. I would like to see what the author does with these two, but will likely wait to see if it gets a favorable review first.