When John, Viscount Welford, proposed to Caroline Fleetwood, the only daughter of the Bishop of Essex, he thought he knew exactly what he was getting—a lovely, innocent bride.
Five years later, he knows better. The woman who ran to another man on their wedding night—after they’d consummated the marriage—is hardly innocent. Years spent apart while John served as a diplomatic attaché have allowed them to save face in society, but all good pretenses must come to an end. When Caroline receives word that her father is dying, she begs John to accompany her on one last journey to see him.
But there’s an added problem—Caroline never told her father that her marriage to John was a farce. As they play-act for others, Caroline is delighted to find she never really knew her husband at all. But can she be the kind of wife he needs—and does she want to be?
Publisher and Release Date: Carina Press 27 July, 2015
Time and Setting: 1820s, England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Jill
Lord Welford, at twenty-six is in need of a wife. And he’s found the perfect woman: Miss Caroline Fleetwood, daughter of the Bishop of Essex. Though John has admired her and escorted her from church on Sundays, he has not had the time nor opportunity to court her at length. At seventeen, Caroline is still quite young. However, time has run out for John, because with an appointment to a diplomatic post in Vienna pending, he must forgo any courting, and with the Bishop’s blessing he asks for her hand.
Despite having her sights set on another man, Caroline accepts John’s proposal. But only an hour after consummating the marriage, she runs off to meet up with the man she loves. Fortunately, John catches up with her, and brings her home. Disappointed and angry, he departs England for Austria shortly afterwards, leaving Caroline at home in Surrey.
Apart for five years, John finally arrives back in England, only to be asked by Caroline to accompany her to visit her dying father. Her one request is that John acts the part of the smitten husband and that they pretend their marriage is a happy one.
The marriage starts off badly for the older, stable John and the young, impulsive Caroline, their differences in age, upbringing and personality clashing horribly. John is faithful, upright and responsible, although Caroline sees him as rigid, uncompromising and cold. Caroline is fun-loving, easy-going and tolerant, but John views her as irresponsible, dishonest and unfaithful. Their differences have held them apart, and yet now that they have time at last to spend together, they begin to see the strengths in the other.
This is another solid historical romance from Alyssa Everett, one of my favourite romance authors. On her website she says that The Marriage Act is a bit “edgier” than her previous titles. For those who’ve read her previous novels I think this one certainly may have a bit more steam than her other books. Though not my favourite of her stories, this is a very satisfying read from a talented historical romance author.