Annabelle's Courtship by Lucy Monroe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hmmm, this was an OK read... I guess. I mean, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either, and that's the best thing I can say about it.
Scottish Laird Ian Mackay, Earl of Graenfrae, needs to get married - to an Englishwoman, blast it all! - in order to claim his stepfather's inheritance. As he's been betrayed by love before - of course, what else is new here? - Ian decides to search for a suitable bride in a "rational" way and makes a list with the qualities he expects to find in his future wife: she must be plain looking (because beauty is deceiving), modestly dowered (because wealthy means spoiled), older (meaning she'll be biddable and accepting of his proposal) and practical (because he doesn't have time to cater to the romantic needs of a woman). So off he goes to London...
As soon as Ian sets his eyes on Lady Annabelle, he knows she's the one: plain looking, modestly dowered, a 24-year-old spinster on the shelf and seemingly practical. Annabelle is attracted to Ian at 1st sight and fancies herself finding love at last, but after hearing him list the reasons why he's chosen her to be his wife, she's rightly offended and refuses him on the spot. Obviously, Ian doesn't take no for an answer and hence begins his courtship of Annabelle...
The premise of this book isn't new in Romancelandia, so I wasn't expected anything out of this world. Whether I enjoyed it or not, it would all depend on the author's skills to make the battle of wills between Ian and Annabelle interesting and entertaining. Funny banter, witty remarks, sizzling sexual tension, lots could be done here. Unfortunately, I got almost nothing of that. Ian was sweet (in that overbearing way that's Scottish heroes' trademark), Annabelle was nice but had a penchant for putting herself in danger that bordered on TSTL territory, the villain was a one-dimensional loony that wouldn't scare a child and the other secondary characters were OK but not remarkable. The pace of the story was slow and no real conflict hampered Ian and Annabelle's relationship. I don't need angst to enjoy a book, but at least give me something to make my heart skip a beat!
That said, I must point out what I liked about this book. Despite his past, Ian never jumped to the wrong conclusions about Annabelle's faithfulness, even though he found her in a compromising situation more than once. On her part, Annabelle wasn't that secure, but I liked the way she didn't shy away from confronting Ian and letting him know how she felt. This is one couple I'm sure will never fall on the traps of a Big Misunderstanding, and that's a big win in Romancelandia.
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