A Prudent Match
A Prudent Match began promisingly. It’s a marriage of convenience story (always a favorite of mine), the hero and heroine William, Baron Ledbetter and Prudence Stockworth are both nice as can be and the main problem in the book – Prudence’s terror of sex – is one that is not treated frankly in most Regency Romances.
Prudence Stockworth had been engaged to Allen Porlonsby but Allen died suddenly while in India. At the beginning of the book, she is marrying William, Eighth Baron Ledbetter. William is no stranger to Prudence, she has known him for a number of years, but William is very masculine, unlike the quiet Allen, and Prudence had always been a tad frightened of him. But William needs Prudence’s dowry and her father wants his 22 year old daughter off his hands, and they do know each other, so before you can say Special License – they are married.
On their wedding night at an inn, Prudence fakes an illness. But when they finally get to William’s estate, she pleads terror of sex. William is the most understanding of husbands, and resolves to gently woo her out of her fears.
The rest of the book is about how she gets over her fear of sex. And that is that. This could have been an intense and sensual Regency – not generally known for their sensuality, most often saved for historicals set in the Regency period – but William and Prudence, who really are nice, did not strike sparks together.
I could never figure out why Prudence feared sex so much. She is a country woman and is used to seeing animals and she knows the mechanics of sex. Her married sisters all seem to be quite fond of their husbands and have no fear of the marriage bed. Prudence’s married friends have happy marriages with their husbands, and William is a handsome and very pleasant man. I could not figure out why she was so fearful.
If there had been some sexual tension between Prudence and William, the book would have been much better, but there was no attraction and no passion between them, despite the fact that A Prudent Match has much more sex in it than is normal in Regency Romances. William’s plan to get Prudence accustomed to him, is to sleep with her in the same bed (William does not wear a nightshirt) and to gradually get her used to kisses and then touches. This made the book much warmer than usual for a Regency.
The scene where Prudence realizes that sex can be a source of great pleasure was ruined for me by the ick factor. She has just started her period and William chooses that night to arouse her to climax. Now given that the washing facilities were not even mentioned – a scene that had a lot of potential was totally spoiled.
Right at the end, the author inserted a sub-plot involving a church organ and the organist who might (or might not) be William’s illegitimate brother. The sub-plot serves no purpose at all, but given the absence of action in the main story, it did cause a few ripples on an otherwise placid pond.
I wish I had liked A Prudent Match better. The characters were a very likable pair and given the subject matter, this could have been a passionate and interesting book. But love scenes cannot substitute for sexual attraction between the hero and heroine. And William and Prudence didn’t have it.