A Will of Her Own
A Will of Her Own reinforced something that I’ve just come to realize about my reading preferences: I read more for characters than for plot. Unhappily, the reinforcement was of the negative sort – even though I liked and admired the heroine, I just couldn’t warm up to the hero.
William Trevaron broke his engagement to a scheming hussy, but she managed to squeeze a promise out of him that he’d never divulge the real reason to anyone. The minx twisted the situation to make it appear as if Will had hurt her while drunk, and as a man of honor he couldn’t renege on his promise to her, not even to set the record straight. In disgust at his behavior, Will’s grandfather, the Duke of Lynchmorne, banished him from the family. Will traveled to America, where over the last six years he’s become a wealthy and successful businessman. He thought he’d never hear from his family in England again, but now a letter from the Duke informs him that with the death of an uncle and cousin, Will is now his heir and the Marquess of Rainley. Gramps is insistent that Will return to England and assume his duties, one of which is a suitable marriage to a well-bred young lady. Eager to return home, but not so eager to risk appearing like his grandfather’s lapdog, Will decides that he’ll go back – but with a bride of his own choosing. And he knows just the woman.
Maggie Carter’s so-far-difficult life is about get even more challenging. Her invalid husband of three years has died, leaving her a horse farm and a mountain of debt. His brother agrees to take in Maggie’s three stepchildren, and she will have to sell the farm and find work again as a domestic servant or paid companion. Heartbroken at losing the kids, she’s completely thrown off her stride when Will comes to visit. His offer of marriage confuses her, but the benefits of such a match are enticing: she’ll get to keep the children and her money problems will vanish. How could she lose? Oh, yeah – she could allow herself to trust in him, as she’s placed her trust in so many people, only to be betrayed over and over.
Maggie is a sympathetic heroine. She’s faced everything life’s thrown at her (and it’s a lot!) and kept going, and I cheered for her to get her HEA. I only wish it had been with a more deserving hero than Will: he came across to me as arrogant and aloof. Plus, his reason for keeping his silence over the reason for the broken engagement rang a little false. Since the ex-fiancée acted without honor in the affair, it seems to me that there would be no more need for him to stay mum on the matter. His action struck me as not so much honorable as bone-headed.
The rest of the cast is mostly forgettable, with the exception of Maggie’s stepchildren, who are well done and have an authentic ring to them. There’s a minor suspense plot – is somebody trying to kill Will even before he leaves the USA? – that I pretty much shrugged off. The villain’s not much more than a caricature anyway, and the suspense consisted of wondering why the rest of the characters didn’t catch on sooner.
Winnie Griggs has a writing style that’s easy to read, and I have to tell you that once I started reading, things clipped along fairly well. I only hope that on her next time out she gives me a hero I can like a little better.