SOS: Convenient Husband Required
Liz Fielding’s latest is a reunion story of teenage lovers from opposite sides of the tracks. Throw in the fact that it also includes a will stipulation that the heroine marry by age 30 or lose her inheritance, and a potential marriage of convenience, and there seems to be an overabundance of series romance clichés. In other hands, this could have been awful. But despite a slow start, I enjoyed the book and was touched by the ending.
May Coleridge just discovered that, thanks to a long neglected condition in her grandfather’s will, she’s going to lose her house if she doesn’t marry by the time she’s 30, an event that’s rapidly approaching. Coleridge House isn’t just May’s home; it’s the source of her livelihood. May runs a business out of the large home, providing a variety of services including lectures, workshops, and arts and crafts weekends. The house is also home to a ragtag collection of stray animals that May shelters.
As May walks away from the lawyer’s office, desperately trying to figure out her future, she spots a cat up a tree, and without thinking, climbs up to rescue the animal. Precariously perched on a branch, who should come to rescue May, but Adam Wavell, the man she lost her heart to as a teenager.
Adam is also in a bind. His sister has disappeared, leaving Adam with her baby. In a brief note his sister suggested that he ask May Coleridge for help. Adam was just on his way over to May’s hoping to get her to take in yet another stray – his infant niece. This is really rather remarkable, as Adam and May haven’t talked in over ten years.
Adam grew up poor, and wasn’t considered fit company for May as a girl. Her grandfather treated him horribly when they were younger, and broke up a budding romance between the two.
Adam’s now a successful businessman, and has conflicted feelings about May. He believes May sided with her grandfather when they were younger, and longs for some revenge. Adam sees May’s legal difficulties as a way to solve his problem with the baby, but also as a chance to get even. He offers her a marriage of convenience, figuring it will hurt May’s pride. While Adam believes May has become a dull woman, he’s still wildly attracted to her.
I too found May rather dull at first, but just as Adam comes to learn that there’s more to her than meets the eye, I also learned that she’s more complex, and capable, than she first appears. Much of the book focuses on Adam’s discovery of May as a woman.
There were some interesting secondary characters in the book, including Adam’s sister and May’s housekeeper, but the focus is firmly on May and Adam.
Some of May’s vocabulary, including swear words such as “sherbet dabs” threw me out of the book. I also had some problems accepting May’s reasons for her split with Adam as a teenager. However, while I was skeptical about the thought of a marriage of convenience in a modern setting, the author made it work for me and, minor problems aside, I enjoyed the book.