The Marriage has one of my favorite plots – the marriage of convenience. I also liked the main characters, Ryan Lassiter and Maggie Drummond. There were some interesting secondary characters too, but just when I thought the book was getting interesting – it was over.
Ryan Lassiter is carrying a lot of emotional baggage. His jet set parents sent him as a young boy to live on a large ranch in Wyoming with his grandfather. His wife, whom he loved, died young of cancer, and in trying to forget her, he has wandered the rodeo circuit to the great displeasure of his grandfather.
Maggie Drummond also has a problem life. Her mother, Lydia is an aimless dreamer who lives out her life vicariously through TV. Her sister, Noreen is an amoral slut who sees men as sources of money and sex. Noreen, who is tall, skinny and blonde spends a lot of time taunting short, plump Maggie for her lack of sex appeal. Maggie is the only competent member of the family and is a warm, kind and loving woman.
Ryan and Maggie meet when he picks her up after her car develops transmission problems. Ryan has come back to the ranch after breaking his arm on the rodeo circuit. His grandfather is pushing him to marry again and trying to fix him up with Shelly, an old high school classmate. Ryan does not want to get married, especially not while his grandfather is pushing him to do so.
Maggie is working as a waitress and likes her job. If it were not for her horrible mother and sister, she would be perfectly happy and content. Gradually, Maggie and Ryan develop a friendship. There is little sexual tension between the two of them and mostly the story focuses on Ryan’s problems with his grandfather and Maggie’s problems with her mother and sister.
When Ryan’s grandfather’s matchmaking gets to be too much for him, he impulsively asks Maggie to marry him. Maggie’s mother has just told her that she is going to sell the house, as Maggie does not want to leave, she accepts. Ryan and Maggie enter their marriage of convenience, him to spite his grandfather and her to stay in the town she loves.
Several of my favorite contemporary books have marriage of convenience plots that, I think, worked better than The Marriage. Linda Howard’s Duncan’s Bride is a MOC story where Reese and Maddie marry early in the book and the conflicts of getting to know each other are played out within the intimacy of marriage which intensified those conflicts dramatically.
Paula Detmer Riggs’ book Once Upon A Wedding is another of my favorite MOC stories. In this one, Hazel and Jess have known each other for some time before they marry and there has been a simmering sexual tension between them. Jess and Hazel also have emotional baggage from earlier marriages. Their own marriage ignites the sexual fireworks and forces them to face their problems from their prior relationships. They end up as stronger people and a devoted couple.
Both these books took note of the problems of the individuals, but their focus was mostly on the couples and their problems unlike The Marriage. The Marriage spends lots of story time on Ryan and his problems and Maggie and her problems but comparatively little time on Ryan and Maggie as a couple. They don’t marry until fairly late in the book and even then they seem to revolve in their own little worlds. There are several subplots that, while interesting, took even more time away from the Ryan and Maggie relationship. I enjoy marriage of convenience stories, but I like them best when they focus mainly on the couple and their relationship, not the individuals and their problems. The Marriage was a book so focused on the individuals that the couple got short shrift.