The blurb, courtesy of Goodreads:
At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.
Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…
Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.
I’ve been working on this review while not making much progress at all (a lot of staring at an empty screen) for days now. It’s time to kick my perfectionism to the curb and just write without worrying whether or not I’m perfectly articulating my thoughts. Listening to Muse is helping; being on Twitter is not.
This book starts with a very short prologue, which is almost as good as not having a prologue at all. Unfortunately, it turns out that the prologue is set in the present day of the story (1815), and then chapter 1 bumps you back 5 years, so you follow the story until it once again reaches present day. So, really, the first six chapters of the book are a prologue, and the actual prologue is just a teaser to get you to care about solving the mystery: how did Jack end up with a marriage that he regrets? Six chapters later, I thought “oh, that’s how… Dude, Jack’s kind of an asshole.” Further, he’s an unfaithful asshole. By the time the author reunited Jack and Elizabeth, I was primed to hate him.
But even though Jack can be a jerk, he’s still a likable character, though riddled with flaws and insecurities. And Elizabeth is just fantastic. (If she had been a weaker character, Jack’s infidelity would have been that much more awful.) She responds to all of the tragedy in her life with strength and resolution. Lonely, sad, and deeply mortified she may be, but that doesn’t mean she can’t function. I loved that she demands Jack earn her trust before she consents to build a relationship with him. I was a very happy reader from about chapter 7 until about chapter 16.
But halfway through chapter 16, I became disgruntled. Here’s the thing… when a writer sets up a situation wherein two characters have a conflict early on in a story, and that conflict is resolved when one character says, “OK, I’ll let all this crap go if you do A, B, C, and D,” and the other character says, “Groovy! Here’s A, B, and C,” and, in an internal monologue goes I can’t possibly do D… that’s just too embarrassing… instead, I’ll fake it, and she’ll never know because X, Y, and Z, any savvy reader will just know that “D” is going to come back and haunt that character and be the big conflict in the book that the characters will have to overcome. And it will annoy the pants off that reader when that thing, indeed, ends up being the big conflict in the story. It’s annoying! It could also just be my pet peeve, so feel free to consider me unreasonable for being annoyed at something to stupid.
My irritation pulled me out of the story, to be sure, but eventually the story between Elizabeth and Jack pulled me back in, and by the end of the story, I once again cared about their impending reconciliation. (The battleground scenes might have had shades of War and Peace, but it’s still a romance novel, and an HEA is pretty much guaranteed.) What I can’t seem to decide is whether I am an unfair reader, expecting more from a book than it can possibly give me.
Bottom line: An Infamous Marriage is a good bit of historical romance. Folks who love a little war-time drama with their romance will be quite happy. Folks who can’t stand unfaithful heroes might want to be cautious in approaching this one, but the resolution between the characters was solid enough and the ending sweet enough to satisfy me.
*FTC Disclosure – I received a e-galley of this book from the publisher, Carina Press, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of this book.*