Release Date: May 26, 2020
Series: Marriage of Convenience
Heat Level: Warm
Publisher: Penguin Group
Marry in Scarlet is the fourth entry in Anne Gracie’s Marriage of Convenience series. The novel is about Lady Georgiana “George” Rutherford, a rather unconventional young heiress and the brooding and aloof Duke of Everingham. After being caught in a compromising position the pair are forced into a marriage of convenience that George isn’t sure she wants. Can the underlying passion between them be enough?
This book was my first in the Marriage of Convenience series, and I will warn that I do not think you should read these out of order. There are several pieces of plot and characters that appear in this novel which are reliant on previous events. Gracie writes regency novels very much in the vein of Judith McNaught or Stephanie Laurens. This means the pacing, language, and characters often are not as modern feeling as a Lisa Kleypas or Julia Quinn novel. I usually don’t mind this different style of writing since it’s the language of romance I cut my teeth on, but in this novel it felt a bit dated.
Lady George is written as a hoyden that made me think of the titular character in Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught. She is brash in her words and attitudes about men and marriage. She has refused several offers of marriage before the start of this book, and she’s garnered a reputation as “untouchable” by the young men of the ton. She declares she will never marry, and her sole goal is to live alone in the country with her dogs and horses for company. She’s so uninterested in men, that she doesn’t even recognize her growing attraction for Everingham for anything else than an annoyance.
The Duke is an aloof and calculating man, who was left at the altar by George’s young aunt, Rose. He’s considering exiting the marriage mart for a time, but after a few encounters with George he finds himself intrigued. Rather ruthlessly he devises a plot to ensure that she becomes his, despite her explicit disapproval of him. I did like that this Duke, unlike so many others in regency romance, appeared to be capable of self-reflection and reform. When George points out several rather large hypocrisies to the Duke, he apologizes rather than becoming angry with her. However, this small amount of growth did not feel enough to me. George insists on getting to know each other better, but the Duke always manages to sidestep most of the sharing and instead gets George to spill some of her most closely held secrets.
The blurb for this book had led me to believe that the passion between these two would fairly burn up the pages. Instead this was a very slow burn that didn’t amount to any real passion until nearly three-quarters of the way through the novel. I had hoped the marriage would occur early in the novel since this series was supposed to be about marriages of convenience, but for most of the book these two barely spend any time together on page. This slow burn became nearly unbearable, but not much else was happening in the book. There’s not a secondary subplot until around 85% of the way into the novel and by that time it felt like too little too late.
Overall, I prefer my romance to be written in a more modern voice with a faster pace. Even in a slow burn romance I want action to be occurring around the couple that helps increase the tension between them. There was so little action in this novel it was easy to find my mind wandering as I read. I never connected with either of the two main characters and found myself actively wishing for some sort of drama to spice things up. If you’re into slower paced novels with plots that are built on the internal workings for society and families, then you may enjoy this novel. If you’re like me and need the novel to really pop off the page, then this probably isn’t for you. This gets a 3 from me, and I’d offer Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens as a better example of a marriage of convenience between a brooding male and a hoyden.