by Gloria Gay

September 2001
ISBN: 1-931391-90-4
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Mass Market Paperback

From newcomer Gloria Gay, Forced Offer is another wonderful addition to her growing booklist.

Belinda Presleigh, the ‘not-so-beautiful’ younger daughter, has been secretly in love with Richard Branston, Earl of Berrington, since she was a young girl. Now, several years after the death of her beautiful older sister, Roselle, Belinda is the only one left to restore her family’s place in society, by marrying someone of rank. But with her looks and shyness, no one of any wealth, man or woman will come within ten feet of her. However, after managing to get an invitation to a house party, Mrs. Presleigh manages to get Belinda and Richard into a compromising position, in which the only way out is for Richard to offer marriage to Belinda, therefore protecting her reputation and thus, to the delight of Mrs. Presleigh, secure Belinda’s family in society.

Of course, having to make this forced offer doesn’t sit very well with Richard, who has other ideas of what his wife should be, one of them that she be relatively pretty, and the last person he would ever consider to be his countess, would be a wallflower like Belinda Presleigh, whom he can’t even remember meeting.

Belinda, of course, accepts his offer of marriage, who wouldn’t? Especially her, who could never have hoped for such an offer from a man like Richard Branston, and being that she’s been in love with him for so long, made the decision easy. But when the truth finally comes out, that her mother orchestrated the whole scandal, just to secure her place in society, how will Belinda ever make Richard love her, as she had always hoped to be loved?

This is a very enchanting story of love, for better or for worse. Belinda comes to terms with her situation and tries to better herself, make herself over to what she thinks her husband would like her to be. Richard, in the meantime, is trying to understand how he had gotten himself in this mess, and how to make the best of a bad situation. What transpires is a love that progresses in little steps and flourishes under the watchful eye of the ton, and turns into the perfect love match.

I loved this story. Ms. Gay’s stories are getting better and better with each one. I predict that she has a very bright future in the romance genre. This is a definite keeper to your romance library.

Reviewed in November 2002 by Debbie.

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