Unsuitable Bride for a Viscount
Elizabeth Beacon’s Yelverton Marriages series continues charmingly with a new volume a peer and the commoner with whom he finds romance in Unsuitable Bride for a Viscount.
Alaric Defford, Viscount Stratford, is in search of his runaway niece, Juno, who fled her home after her mother tried to sell her hand in marriage to an elderly member of the peerage. Waylaid by rain, Alaric determines that Juno is in fact with Miss Grantham, her former tutor, and that both are staying with the tough-minded widow Marianne Turner at Owlet Manor. But Miss Grantham has an assignation with Marianne’s brother (see book one, Marrying for Love or Money?), and Juno has not arrived at the cottage. When she does, Alaric agrees to let her stay, and a blow to the back of the head results in a concussion that keeps him among the ladies.
This gives him time to get to know Marianne, who proves to be a tough bird, the widow of a soldier whom she loved deeply and eloped with, disgracing herself in the eyes of society. She also presumed she’d never love again until Alaric, with his banter and his stubbornness, enters her life.
As Marianne and Alaric stumble toward love together, courting and sparking all the way, Juno finds a place for herself at Owelt house, and Marianne must figure out if she – a widowed but genteel woman of tarnished reputation – truly belongs in the arms of a Viscount, upon whom the fate of the entire Stratford dynasty rests.
Unsuitable Bride for a Viscount works precisely because of the strength of the connection between our hero and heroine right from the outset. They have strong opinions and are distinct individuals, but behave like adults, adults who talk out their past hurts and find themselves in love in spite of it all.
Marianne’s family life is strained after her marriage to Daniel, a marriage that was successful and loving but was cut off cruelly and left her an outsider to the life she knew as a vicar’s daughter. She’s since surrounded herself with women who have survived similar strained circumstances and prefer to work rather than depend upon their capricious relatives.
Alaric, meanwhile, is in search of a woman who will love him for himself – not the title or the money that comes with his name, one who genuinely looks forward to having his children – for reasons that are revealed within the plot and connect back to Juno, who is, incidentally, a delight.
Naturally, Alaric proves to Marianne that she can love twice and well and be happy without losing the memories of her first husband, and Marianne proves to be a salt-of-the-earth girl who isn’t at all interested in the social whirl. The road there is paved with lots of comfortable getting-to-know-you feelings, with some great moments of friendship and sibling love to boot.
Quite notable is Juno and Alaric’s niece/uncle relationship, which is genuinely loving, supportive and adorable. Marianne’s friendships with the various women living at Owlet Manor are also filled with banter, gossip, warmth and good advice.
My only real criticism is that some of the plot work connects tightly into the first volume of the series. While the book is decently readable on its own, some elements of the story that show up here seem to have been explored more fully in the first volume of the series.
But the excellent, tender romance is what keeps the reader tuned in to Unsuitable Bride for a Viscount, and is what earns it a warm recommendation.