Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.
When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.
Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?
Publisher and Release Date: Berkley, May 2017
Time and Setting:England (London & Bath), 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Sara
Anne Gracie tells stories about relationships. Not only do her books focus on the love that develops between the main couple but just as much time is spent on how the bonds of friendship and family can evolve. A title like Marry in Haste would lead one to believe that the story is quick to throw characters into contrived situations. Instead the story takes its time, showcasing the intricate emotional connections that will forever join one person to another.
Upon his return to England, Major Calbourne Rutherford planned on making his report on the deadly assassin he’d been tracking in Spain and then returning to the field to capture his foe. He didn’t count on life altering his plans; however with the news that his dissolute elder brother had died, Cal is thrust into the role of a titled gentleman. Finding himself the new Lord Ashendon is more of an inconvenience than an honor as the title means a responsibility to his lands and taking care of his two younger half-sisters. The two girls have been living with their aunt in Bath for years and Cal hasn’t been home to see them in over a decade. His reintroduction to his family goes poorly as the little girls he remembers have blossomed into two beautiful but headstrong young women who are not particularly pleased to see him.
The Rutherford family dynamic changes again when Cal’s solicitor uncovers proof that his brother wed in secret and may have a legitimate heir. Traveling to Alderton believing he’s searching for a nephew named George, Cal instead is greeted by his angry and unkempt young niece Georgiana. With three young women now under his care and absolutely no knowledge about how to prepare them for a London season, Cal is desperate. He needs to find a suitable woman who can take over full responsibility for his charges when he returns to the field. Fortunately Cal knows the perfect candidate for the job. Unfortunately she’s already told him “No” on two separate occasions.
Miss Emmaline Westwood remembers the Rutherford girls when they attended the Bath finishing school where she’s been teaching. Her first encounter with the new Lord Ashendon was a brief conversation after he begged the school’s proprietress to take his sisters back. Emm’s physical response towards the man was overwhelming but she knows that lustful attraction can be dangerous and she has more pressing concerns than mooning over a handsome face. Her second meeting with Cal comes on the heels of receiving the offer of becoming headmistress at the school so his job offer to become a governess for the now three Rutherford women holds no appeal. Emm can see how urgently Cal needs to find someone to care for his sisters and niece; however his offer would expire once the women are married and as a single woman Emm needs the long term security of the school position. When Cal comes knocking on Emm’s door a third time she expects to gently turn him down again. Instead he comes with an offer that will give her something she’s desperately craved since leaving her own home in disgrace – the chance to be part of a family again.
Cal didn’t plan on proposing to Emm but a recent conversation with an acquaintance opened his eyes to the possibility that a new Lady Ashendon would solve all his problems. It doesn’t hurt that Emm is beautiful, intelligent and has an easy manner with the girls that he could never hope to achieve. Thinking that their marriage must benefit the ladies of the house, Cal is surprised by the little ways that Emm incorporates herself into his daily routine. His convenient wife becomes anything but when Cal finds himself torn between his drive to return to his life in the field and the desires Emm awakens in him. For a man used to serving King and Country, his next critical mission may be the one that benefits his home and heart.
There are so many wonderful introductions within Marry in Haste that any synopsis will fall short on explaining how closely each of the characters are connected and how the greater story unfolds. The opening chapters of the story barely touch on the romantic side of Cal and Emm’s relationship, instead it allows readers to get to know the Rutherford family inside and out. At first this was a little frustrating as Emm is there in Bath with the family but very separate from all the drama unfolding as Cal gets to know his sisters and niece. Once Emm is brought into the family as Cal’s new bride, the reason for keeping her separate is made clear as she becomes the peacemaker. Emm sees the fractures within the family dynamic and uses her gifts of patience and caring to mend the bonds. As a woman who knows herself she becomes a role model for the girls who are still struggling out of their adolescence to discover who they are as adults. Each girl blossoms under her guidance and it’s a joy to see how that in turn helps Emm feel wanted and loved for herself.
Another interesting part of Marry in Haste was how much of the story is told from Cal’s viewpoint. I am a very hero-centric reader, so spending page time understanding his motivations and learning who he is as a character made it special as I watched him grow and change through the influence of his family and with Emm by his side. I never saw Cal as selfish but he was always trying to ignore the obstacles that life put in his path in favor of getting to his goal. Upon becoming Lord Ashendon, Cal can no longer keep those blinders on and he’s awakened to a whole other life that is possible when he slows down and enjoys the smaller, quieter accomplishments in life.
I loved reading Marry in Haste! I’m very curious to know what happens next for the Rutherfords since there were almost no clues about which of the girls might be next for a marriage. Hopefully her Marriage of Convenience will be a benefit for all involved.