I had high hopes for this book. It started strong. The hero and the heroine are crazy about each other right off the bat. They want the same things; their path to happiness is clear. But as they move forward in what seemed like a pretty straightforward love story, they completely screw themselves up.
After the death of her father, Charlotte grew up in the country with her mother and sisters. She had no idea he had arranged a marriage for her until a solicitor arrived from the Duke of Marchbourne, ready to bring her back to London. Fortunately, March ends up being more than she had ever dreamed she would find in a match. He is handsome and kind and he wants her every bit as much as she wants him. In fact, he is so excited about marrying her, they move up the wedding and tie the knot right away.
They are blissfully happy at first. But then, March's neurosis kicks in. Way back in the family tree, his great-grandmother was a mistress to the king. It was the start of what he considers his base bloodline. His father frequented whores. March is terrified that somehow his bloodline will affect him in similar fashion. So he resolves to treat Charlotte as nothing less than an impeccable lady. His heart is in the right place, in that he is trying to honor her. But he stops treating her as a true lover, as a partner. And of course, she has no idea what is behind the change. She thinks she somehow screwed up.
Around and around these two go, taking a step forward and two steps back... worrying about propriety and ideals when they have real love already in their grasps. It was very frustrating. There is essentially no external conflict or secondary plot at all. Just Charlotte and March getting caught up in what they think they should be doing and forgetting what made them happy in the first place.
I liked Charlotte. She is innocent without being an idiot and she would really be quite competent if March gave her the chance. As for March, he is a good man at his core, but his hang-ups are serious. We do find in the course of the book there is more to his issues than it first appears, and that helps to explain his behavior a bit more. But all in all, it just kind of fizzled.
Rating: C-*ARC Provided by NetGalley