The Bartered Virgin by Chevon Gael
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
2 1/2 stars (rounded up to 3 stars because I liked the setting)
This story takes place in the early 20th century, when nouveau riche Americans had no qualms about "selling" their daughters into marriage with decadent and near-bankrupt English noblemen for their titles and prestige. Zachariah Percy is one of those nouveau riche Americans and he has a daugther, Winnifred, to barter. David Knightsbridge, the Earl of Wolshingham, is one of those near-bankrupt English nobleman who, thanks to his late father's folly, is in need of funds to restore the Knightsbriar estate to its former glory. So Mr. Percy and David reach an agreement: David and Winn will marry, David will receive her substantial dowry and Mr. & Mrs. Percy's social status will get a boost. It's a win-win situation, except... no one has asked Winn's opinion about it.
Marriage isn't in Winn's immediate plans, especially marriage to a man that she's only met once and doesn't remember that well. However, she can't confront her father - at least, not directly. So she decides to make her unwanted fiancé change his mind and call off the wedding by pretending to be a harlot and convincing him she's an unsuitable bride for him. Naturally, things don't work out exactly as planned... until they do work out too well and Winn finally gets what she wants. Or does she?
I was sold to this book by its premise and setting, and I saw it as a potential 5-star read before I started it. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm dimmed over the course of the story and I didn't feel any connection with David and Winn. Winn was okay but not particularly engaging. Her antics were kind of silly and I suppose I should have found them funny, but alas, they didn't work for me. David was very unlikable at first and I didn't understand what Winn saw in him. I thought he was rather rude in his speech and actions, and I didn't like the way he treated Winn. What kind of (gentle)man takes a woman's virginity and then sends her home in a taxi? Alone. At 3 A.M.! That is not okay in today's age, when (most) women are as independent as they can be, and it was definitely not okay in the early 20th century. Anyway, David got better as the story progressed, but it wasn't enough to win me over.
All in all, this was an okay read. It wasn't altogether bad because the setting was interesting, but I never felt the love between David and Winn. As this is a romance novel, that was disappointing.
Note: I received this eARC from Carina Press via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.
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