Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Heiress in Love by Christina Brooke

Ugh, the past two days have been brutal. It's really gotten cold and I've been having headaches and feeling nauseous. I'm knocking on wood it's not a BPPV relapse. Instead, I'm blaming the cold... In any case, I cannot afford getting sick as I'm going to the conference this week-end. Hmmmm, now that I think about it, it could be the conference is stressing me up. I mean, we're leaving Sunday and I have just booked the bus tickets today. It's soo annoying because my boss is indecisive about everything and so it doubles the planning time ^_^; Also, my labmate is really starting to panic as he and our boss each has a poster presentation... but we have not started on the posters yet!! Yeah... guess what I've been drafted to help with?

On the review front, I'm trying to catch up on books from this summer ^_^; I'm so behind, it's not funny. To try to avoid this situation in two months, I've been mixing it up, old and new... If there are any books that I was supposed to review and I haven't yet and you'd like me to, please let me know! LOL. In the meantime, enjoy this one!

Heiress in Love by Christina Brooke
published by St. Martin's Press in June 2011

When the Ministry of Marriage arranges a match, all that matters is power, wealth and prestige. In the business of marriage, there is no room for love. But even the most prudent plans can go awry...

Jane, Lady Roxdale, has endured one marriage of convenience decreed by the Ministry of Marriage. While she deeply regrets her late husband’s death, she is relieved to be free at last. But when a dissolute rake threatens everything Jane holds dear, she must contemplate marrying a second time...

Disgraced libertine Constantine Black inherits his cousin Roxdale’s land and title—while Roxdale’s prim widow is left all the wealth. Constantine is not a marrying man, but wedding Jane is the only way to save the estate from ruin. Jane resists the smoldering heat between them, desperate not to fall in love with an unrepentant rake. But for the first time ever, Constantine wants more than seduction. He wants all of her—body, heart, and soul...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Ministry of Marriage series, Book #1

The Story: Through ironic circumstances, the Duke of Montford, a confirmed bachelor, found himself the guardian of 5 children - 3 girls, all heiresses, and 2 boys, titled and landed. He did his best raising them and ensuring their futures which means making sure their fortunes grew and in the case of the ladies, that they'd also marry well. As a member of the Ministry of Marriage, Montford had his pick for the best matches...

Jane, Lady Roxdale, was one of Montford's ward and was married off to Frederick Black, Baron Roxdale, at the age of 17. While she had liked him during their courtship, marriage did not turn out as she expected... and as a result, Jane is content to be free again. All she wants is to live peacefully and to take care of her 6 years old nephew and Frederick's ward, Luke Black. She knows that soon, Montford will plot to get her married again, but this time, she intends to remain independent. Unfortunately, Frederick's will have taken away that option...

Constantine Black is the defunct Lord Roxdale's cousin and heir. Years ago, Constantine refused to marry a young lady that he had compromised and as a result, he's been estranged with his family and has become persona non grata to the ton. And of course, he's gotten a reputation that he hasn't earned. Now that he's inherited the title though, Constantine wants to forget the past, start anew and prove to everyone they were wrong about him... However, it won't be as easy as he thinks...

Indeed, in his iron-clad will, Frederick Black stipulated that all his funds would go to his widow and Luke's guardianship was transferred to Constantine. Each has what the other wants as Constantine now has no funds to maintain the estate... and therefore, there is really only one solution: a marriage of convenience between the two!

My Opinion: This book caught my attention earlier this summer when I was going through the list of authors attending RWA. Back then, I was binging on historical romance and this definitively seemed to be right up my alley :) I was determined to get a copy at RWA... and I'm glad I did!! :)

The premise of Heiress in Love is not really original - it's a marriage of convenience after all. Constantine needs the funds to maintain his estate and Jane wants to remain close to Luke. However, Ms Brooke did a great job with it and it's all due to her interesting characters :) I have to say, I really liked the hero of this book. Despite his reputation, Constantine was really an honorable man. I liked that he accepted the consequences of his decision and they were quite dire. He didn't blame anyone, didn't whine and wasn't  angry at the whole world. He stood by his principles and wouldn't be coerced into a marriage and it took guts. With Jane, while he didn't have many options, to marry her was still his choice. I also liked that he bonded with Luke - I love men getting along with kids in books :) It shows a different side of them. I also liked that he was hard-working and cared for his tenants. As I said, a great hero and he totally stole the spotlight in this book. I'm not saying that Jane was a bad heroine. She was likable, but paled a little bit in comparison to Constantine. She wasn't as self-assured as Constantine and was a bit the ice maiden. She did feel, but it felt to me she didn't know how to communicate her feelings. The only persons she let close to her were her childhood friends and Luke. Still, at the end, you have to admire her love for Luke.

The romance in the book was okay. I think the fact that bothered the most to me was the fact that Jane didn't enjoy the conjugal act with her late husband and therefore she finally finds passion with Constantine. It's just so common whenever you have widow heroines ^_^; Although I guess it's all a question of chemistry. In any case, I'm happy the two of them didn't jump right in the marriage and in bed together. Actually, both had reservation about it and were trying to find other options. I thought that was realistic. It also gave them time to get to know each other better and develop their feelings. In that aspect, the romance worked for me :) All in all, the romance was there and it was nice, but it lacked a bit of omphf to it making it only okay.

The overall storyline of Heiress in Love was interesting :) Surprisingly, there was a lot going on and Ms Brooke did a great job balancing everything. The most interesting part for me was Constantine's past :) The weakest part for me was the Ministry of Marriage. It seems to be consisted of three persons: Montford, Lady Arden and Lord DeVere and together, they seemed to be related to everyone in Society LOL. As it is the basis of this series, I wished there'd have been more explanations about the Ministry of Marriage. Why did they form, who has given them the power, what is their purpose. Obviously, it is to make match... but there must be more to it, right? So I hope Ms Brooke clarifies that in the future. I also wish for more interactions between Montford and Jane, just so she understands that Montford really did care for them all.

In the end, I was really pleasantly surprised by Heiress in Love. I think Ms Brooke has a nice writing style that flows well and is easy to read.  Heiress in Love was definitively a solid debut, its flaws minor, and I am looking forward to Mad About the Earl, the next book in this series :)

My Grade: B-.