A Necessary Bride
Anyone watching me read A Necessary Husband would have thought I was a great candidate for therapy. I’m sure it looked something like this: smile, nod; growl and grit teeth; smile, nod; growl and grit teeth…. At times I enjoyed the story immensely, but other times the heroine drove me crazy.
American Margaret “Meg” Stanton-Lynch is staying with her English cousin, Penelope. (I believe that Penelope and Meg appeared in the previous book, A Necessary Husband.) At Penelope’s wedding to Lord Knightsbridge, Meg spots a dangerous looking, yet darkly handsome man standing off by himself. Meg notices that everyone avoids him during the reception, except Knightsbridge and Penelope. She decides to make his acquaintance since she knows how it feels to be the odd person out.
Justin St. James, the Earl of Rathmore, has been labeled a murderer by society. Though there was no physical or substantial evidence that he murdered his cousin’s fiancée, Ophelia, society cast the blame on him anyway since it was well know she wanted him, not his cousin Desmond. Justin’s own family believed him to be a murderer, driving him to leave his beloved England behind until their deaths a few years later. Justin then inherited his title, but society still shuns him, and now he has the future of his ward Emily to think of. For this reason, he hopes to discover the real murderer.
Justin and Meg are immediately attracted to each other and since Justin is a friend of Knightsbridge’s they encounter each other fairly frequently. Justin is also having problems with twelve-year-old Emily. Meg befriends Emily and helps mend some rifts in her relationship with Justin.
There were many things I enjoyed about this book. Justin has been terribly wronged, but he is not a brooding, moody hero who spends most of his time feeling sorry for himself. He wants to be a part of society and wants to be accepted again. His interaction with Meg is sensual and beguiling. Throughout the book these two flirt and fill their conversation with innuendos that I found lively and fun. Meg accepts her attraction to Justin and wants to work with him to clear his name.
Although I liked Meg, I had more problems with her character. For some reason the label of American gives her license to act out of character for the era. She doesn’t care about her virginity and refuses to marry Justin because, she claims, Americans only marry for love. She continues to refuse Justin’s offers of marriage even though the poor man has practically begged her to marry him. She wants to find herself first before she will marry anyone, something which seems incredibly anachronistic of the time period. Even after her family has revealed to her how much her behavior has hurt them, she still refuses to see the consequences of her actions. This lessened her character in my eyes. An independent heroine is one thing, but she was too much. In addition, when the real villain is unmasked, Meg suddenly becomes TSTL. Since they have discovered who the villain is, there is no reason for her to throw herself in the path of danger, but she does it anyway.
The secondary characters were well written, especially Emily. She is neither the spoiled brat or the perfect child, but a confused girl on the brink of becoming a teenager – a horrible time for everyone. Knightsbridge and Penelope provide support for Justin and Meg, but don’t overshadow the story.
I would have enjoyed this book much more had Meg acted consistently. Her switches from rational adult to heedless teenager were too much for me. Fans of the previous book will probably enjoy seeing familiar characters again, and this book does have some fun aspects. If you like this author, I can recommend this as a mostly enjoyable way to spend a few hours. (Just be aware that you might have the same reaction I did, and people might suggest a good therapist for you.)