My Lord Protector
A marriage of convenience is supposed to be beneficial to both parties. As a marriage in name only, it is supposed to provide not only security, but freedom not normally allowed within the confines of a conventional marriage. Both husband and wife are free to conduct their lives as they wish with no fear of becoming attached to one another. In My Lord Protector by Deborah Hale, the marriage between Julianna and Edmund is anything but convenient.
Julianna Ramsey is being forced into marriage by her abusive stepbrother. As she faces her much older groom, she prays that her beloved Crispin will forgive her for her weakness, and that they will find some way to be together when he returns from his voyage. Surely she can endure life with Edmund until then – anything is preferable to her stepbrother.
Edmund Fitzhugh only agrees to marry Crispin’s ladylove out of loyalty to his nephew. Having already felt the pinch of the matrimonial noose, he does not enter into the agreement lightly. He will protect the girl for the two years it will take Crispin to come home and then he will return to his solitary life.
Things don’t necessarily go the way either Julianna or Edmund have planned. Despite their efforts to remain at a distance a friendship eventually blooms between them. That friendship gives way to desire and finally love. But the loyalty both feel toward Crispin threatens any chance they might have at happiness together.
My Lord Protector is a sweet, romantic story. Hale does a wonderful job of creating two very likable characters, as well as a few interesting secondary cast members. Edmund and Julianna grow together despite their loyalty to Crispin and the difference in their ages. Their entire marriage is filled with sexual awareness that eventually becomes impossible for either of them to deny. Unfortunately, the eventual consummation of their vows falls somewhat flat. Hale draws the reader in with the tension between both characters but delivers a very tame, very subtle love scene which I found disappointing. I was anticipating the physical joining of these two characters, was teased with it, and then left disappointed.
Julianna’s stepbrother is the villain of the story – and he certainly fits the mold. Slimy and completely unlikable, he wasn’t in the book enough to cause much trouble between the hero and heroine. Unfortunately, he was easily disposed of three quarters of the way through the book to make room for another obstacle. I would have liked to have seen more of him, especially after some of the comments he made to Edmund.
All in all My Lord Protector is an impressive debut, even though its sexual content is better suited for a Regency than a Historical. Hale has created two believable, intriguing characters in Edmund and Julianna. I found myself not even thinking about the age difference, but rather how incredibly suited for each other the two of them were. Even though Edmund had me worried for a bit, I never doubted that they would end up happily ever after. But it was fun watching them get there.