Lord Bredon and the Bachelor's Bible
In Mia Marlowe’s Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible, Edward Lovell, Lord Bredon, owns an estate in dire need of money. Fortunately for him, he discovers The Bachelor’s Bible, which reveals the dowries of eligible girls, so he decides to marry Miss Martha Finch’s eighty thousand pounds.
The only problem is that Miss Finch has a sponsor, a widow called Anne Howard who’s determined to protect her. Edward was once in love with Anne, but his father didn’t approve, and insisted that Edward go to Europe for his Grand Tour, with the agreement that if he came back still wanting to marry Anne, he could do so. In his absence, though, she got married. Now she won’t let him court Miss Finch, but Edward realizes it’s not Miss Finch he really wants.
This isn’t the most original setup. The moment Anne has a flashback to the night she and Edward made secret love in the moonlight, I knew exactly what would happen as a result. At page 374 I predicted a baby-logue, and at page 453 it happened. But the story could still have been interesting if the people involved were fun to read about. But unfortunately, Edward is a stuffed shirt whose priority is to have Anne again, by any means necessary.
…he suddenly realized if he married Miss Finch, he’d be well able to afford to keep Anne, too. Most gentlemen of his acquaintance kept a mistress, some of them for longer than they kept their wives. […] Edward could picture them sharing cozy private suppers, long languid nights, and dewy-eyed mornings.
I’m not sure what he imagines his wife in this breathtakingly romantic scenario would be doing at night. Taking a lover who cares about her, is my hope.
Anne was much more admirable at first. I liked the ways she earned money, and her plans for the future. But then she admitted that when Edward told her about the Grand Tour and asked her to wait for him, she knew she was pregnant. Rather than telling him about the baby, though, she got married, let the other man think it was his child, and let Edward think she betrayed him.
I’m used to heroines who martyr themselves, but Anne’s motive for doing this sets a new precedent. She claims if she told Edward the truth, he would have married her, but that he would have eventually come to resent her because she had taken away his choice to go to Europe. This is the silliest, most contrived reason I have ever read for keeping the Secret Baby a secret.
But anyway, the death of Anne’s husband makes a magistrate suspicious, and Edward suggests she marry him so she’ll be protected in case people suspect her. She finally agrees, but says that they won’t sleep together and that they’ll have an annulment once the pressure is off. Annulments were pretty easy to get, don’t you know. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic – they weren’t.) But it’s much easier than making Edward hear the word “no”. He thinks, “A husband has rights and I mean to claim them”, then tells her what he wants.
“You know I am within my rights to—”
“My first husband was not shy about asserting his husbandly rights without my consent. I came to despise him for it.”
Of course, each time Edward touches her she does an impression of ice cream in an oven, but I was uncomfortable with putting rape on the table and then sweeping it aside. Other than Edward being handsome and horny, he had nothing at all going for him.
In great contrast is Reginald Dickey, a ton darling because of his irreverent sense of humor. The by-blow of a duke who gave him a gentleman’s education, he’s entertaining in a way Edward never is. I perked up each time Reginald appeared, but on three occasions, he overhears conversations because he was hiding behind something, and the repetition became ridiculous.
That said, thanks to being a professional eavesdropper, he hears the villains rehearsing their nefarious plans in a semi-public place. He goes to Edward, who tells him he should have confronted them. Reginald points out that his only weapon is his wit, and against murderers, a sharply honed bon mot is unlikely to work. Damn, I wish this book had been about him. But villains this stupid are swiftly and easily dispatched, and all’s well that ends.
I can’t recommend Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible to anyone except Mia Marlowe’s fans (and perhaps not even to them.) For everyone else, be aware that this story features a pompous hero indifferent to the fact that he pressured a rape victim for sex, and a heroine who prioritized a trip to Europe over her child’s future. Read at your own risk.