One Night with the Major
Bronwyn Scott’s One Night with the Major has a wonderful start that turned to a pleasant but not exceptional read. Although this book is part of the Allied at the Altar series, new readers should have no difficulty leaping in here.
Pavia Honeysett is a woman with a mission most possible: losing her virginity. The half-Indian daughter of a very wealthy Cit, she’s been promised in marriage to an elderly peer she has no liking for, so she sets out to ruin herself by wearing gauzy veils and dancing in a tavern. Maybe not the smartest move in terms of physical safety, but she’s taken precautions in advance, and she goes for the most attractive man in the room, Major Cam Lithgow.
Grieving the loss of a friend in battle, Cam is not interested at first, but he soon realizes that this young woman needs protection from some if not all of the men watching the spectacle. So he takes her upstairs and they have great sex, after which he confides some of his past to her. But he wakes to find her gone. Though he felt curiously drawn to her, her disappearance is just as well, since his family expects him to marry a woman of his own social class.
To his surprise, he meets Miss Honeysett at a social function, and finds himself intrigued all over again. But Pavia has problems of her own, since she discovered she’s pregnant. She tells Cam, who says he’ll do the right thing – but both their fathers cut them off without a penny, and although Cam owns a house in the village of Little Trull, he and Pavia suddenly find themselves with a lot less money, a baby on the way, and a marriage where, despite their sexual compatibility, they don’t know each other well at all.
This is a fantastic set-up. I especially liked the fact that Pavia had been (mostly) shielded by her money from prejudice, but now she might have to face all that head-on. Cam was generic as heroes go – honorable, sexy, devoted to his new family, haunted by an event in his past – but everything felt realistic and I was very interested in what would happen to them.
Unfortunately, after this, it felt as though I was reading a montage of married-couple scenes. Since Cam doesn’t want to return to the army now that he has a wife and child, he talks to an old friend from a previous book about going into business together. Pavia talks to the friend’s wife, who of course has an adorable baby. The villagers treat the newlyweds to a housewarming. The estranged parents try to make trouble. Pavia and Cam argue, then make up. Sex was possibly involved in the latter; I can’t remember, but it seems likely.
It’s all well-written and the sex scenes are hot, but the conflict is low-key. At one point, Pavia realizes she’s in love with Cam, but she thinks that obviously he only married her to do right by their child. Meanwhile, Cam realizes he’s in love with Pavia, but obviously she only married him because her baby needed a father. After the great beginning, this felt lacking.
Plus, the fact that the heroine is a biracial, bicultural woman plays hardly any role in the plot. Pavia prepares chapatis instead of bread on one occasion, and there are a couple of racists who make a couple of racist comments, but that was about it. As a bicultural woman of color, I’ve faced more bigotry in the here-and-now than Pavia did in this story. I was especially disappointed that Pavia and Cam didn’t discuss things such as whether or not to teach their child about customs and beliefs in India.
Near the end, a character threatening someone with a gun puts it down because, as the story tells us, “Love had reclaimed him.” I’m sure this is meant to be heartwarming, but I need a little more evidence to believe a domineering, manipulative person bent on bloodshed can be saved by the Power of Love. *cue Celine Dion song*
Still, there’s enough to enjoy about One Night with the Major, especially the discovery that leads into the next in the series. I plan to read that, because the hero sounds intriguing. While this book didn’t rise to being a keeper, it was a good historical romance to pass a morning with.