New York Times bestselling author Candace Camp offers a delicious marriage-of-convenience story in this passionate historical romance, featuring her signature “clever and witty banter, sharp attention to detail, and utterly likable characters” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
James de Vere has always insisted on being perfectly pragmatic and rational in all things. It seemed the only way to deal with his overdramatic, greedy family. When he falls ill and no doctor in London can diagnose him, he returns home to Grace Hill in search of a physician who can—or to set his affairs in order.
Arriving at the doctor’s home, he’s surprised to encounter the doctor’s daughter Laura, a young woman he last saw when he was warning her off an attachment with his cousin Graeme. Alas, the doctor is recently deceased and Laura is closing up the estate, which must be sold off, leaving her penniless. At this, James has an inspiration: why not marry the damsel in distress? If his last hope for a cure is gone, at least he’ll have some companionship in his final days, and she’ll inherit his fortune instead of his grasping relatives, leaving her a wealthy widow with plenty of prospects.
Laura is far from swept off her feet, but she’s as pragmatic as James, so she accepts his unusual proposal. But as the two of them brave the onslaught of shocked and suspicious family members, they find themselves growing closer. They vowed, “until death do us part”…but now both are longing for their marriage to be more than momentary in this evocative romance.
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A Momentary Marriage
Sir James de Vere is dying. He’s seen a vast number of physicians, and while they all can’t agree on a diagnosis of what his illness is, they do all agree he doesn’t have much longer left to live. Ever practical, James begins to set his affairs in order. He confides the truth to Graeme, his cousin and true friend. Graeme urges him to give one more doctor a try, the father of Graeme’s ex-fiancée, Laura. James, although doubtful, but clinging to a thin thread of hope, travels to Dr. Hinsdale’s home. He arrives to find that the good doctor has recently died, leaving his daughter, Laura, without any means of support.
James and Laura have a bitter history. Eleven years ago, Laura and James’s cousin, Graeme, were in love and engaged. Graeme’s estate and finances were in disastrous shape, and marriage to Laura would be of no help. James convinced Laura to break the engagement for Graeme’s future good, and she did so. Laura’s heartbreak eventually healed, and Graeme went on to marry an heiress. (This story is told in A PERFECT GENTLEMAN.) Still, Laura has no love for James and his highhanded, arrogant ways.
James leaves, disheartened, because his last hope is gone. Yet, he begins to think of the state that Laura is now in. She never married, and her father left nothing but debts. If he were to convince Laura to marry him, he could leave her the bulk of his fortune, thus keeping it away from his grasping relatives. It would also be a measure of recompense for the future James convinced her to give up years ago. Laura is obviously shocked at the proposal, but she’s able to tell just how ill James truly is, and sees that he badly wants this to happen. She accepts, and they head off to James’s country home to inform his family, and where James will live out his remaining time at the place he loves.
I find James to be a very complicated character. He is cynical about life and love and his family. He’s very wealthy and controls his family’s actions in a lofty manner, not caring for their opinions, or wanting their affection. The only one showing him any love is his mother, whom he just tolerates. This illness, though, shows James just how human he is, and some cracks begin to appear in his icy facade. He continues to exhibit an outwardly pragmatic attitude and a sometimes morbid sense of humor about his impending demise. When he can no longer make any pretense at functioning, and takes to his bed, my heart broke for him and the suffering he was enduring.
Laura is a very straightforward person, and she was easy for me to like and respect right from the beginning. She cares for James, tending to him constantly, doing her best to ease his pain and fear. It’s sad that the two began to form an actual friendship that is doomed to end even before it begins. Or, is it? Through a lucky accident, Laura discovers that James does not have an illness, but someone is intentionally trying to end his life. Because James is so very ill, it’s touch and go as to whether he can still be saved.
This is where A MOMENTARY MARRIAGE veers off in a whole new and exciting direction. Laura, fearing for James’s safety, refuses to leave him alone, and she uses her skill as a doctor’s daughter to nurse him back to health. All this enforced intimacy causes James and Laura to see each other as something other than adversaries. Soon, passion becomes part of their relationship, and they begin a real marriage. As they adjust, they also have to find out who the would-be-murderer is, and why. I love everything about this book – the story is solid and exciting, the character development is steady, and the romance is genuine and the passion is steamy. A MOMENTARY MARRIAGE is an example of why I read and love historical romance, and I highly recommend this emotional tale.
As originally reviewed at Smitten By Books