by Madeleine Conway

February 2004
ISBN: 0-8217-7640-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

In order to pay her fatherís gambling debt, Cecilia Marchmont, a young chubby duckling, agrees to marry the Viscount Ormiston, the son of one of her fatherís friends. The Viscount is appalled by his fatherís nerve in arranging the marriage. How can he be expected to marry a young woman whom he finds absolutely hideous? His lack of funds is the only thing, which makes him agreeable to such a distasteful relationship. Itís not as if he has to spend any real time with his wife anyway; heís off to Europe for a few years. When he returns to London, the marriage will be annulled and all will be well.

Not exactly. When Ormiston returns, the ugly duckling has now become an incomparable swan whom he is drawn to as if by magic. Nevertheless, Cecilia is a vengeful swan who has not forgiven the Viscount for scorning her years ago. A night of unbridled passion cancels any chance of annulment, and the Viscount and Cecilia are stuck in a marriage that neither claims to want.

Sometimes though, a marriage of convenience becomes a bonding of two hurts, and then a reluctant husband becomes a loving one.

The premise behind The Reluctant Husband is engaging, but the story itself never catches up in appeal. Whether itís the lukewarm writing, the simple ending, or the one-dimensional characters, the reason for the storyís overall unattractiveness is not precisely clear.

Although the weak dialogue and the tedious pace of the story stand out strongly, the inconsistent actions of the lead characters were just as unappealing. Cecilia and the Viscount spent more time talking to themselves to each other, and this was also quite annoying.

What is evident is that The Reluctant Husband, is not a very entertaining read; it was quite a chore to finish. As such, it is recommended only with reluctance.

Reviewed in June 2004 by Natasha.

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