Laura Lee Guhrke
"From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she's delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.
"By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family's enormous debts, and Edie's terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it's time for a real marriage with this luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?"
I picked up Laura Lee Guhrke's novel on a whim. I spied it in a stack of returning books and I found myself curious. I can't say why, but it suddenly appealed to me, so I picked it up and took it home with me--and, honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the story.
It's a romantic story, so it's pretty obvious that it will end up having a "happily-ever-after" as most romance novels do, but it's very well done. It's not as predictable as I imagined; rather, it manages to develop an emotional relationship that is first sown in adversity and creates a strong female protagonist who manages to hold her own role.
Moreover, it doesn't shy away from darker aspects or attempt to gloss over hard truths--and it doesn't try to color Edie and Stuart's relationship as anything it's not. Edie is a "ruined" American heiress (through no fault of her own, mind you), and Stuart is a scarred African traveler who is returning home after five years abroad. They're not young, foolish lovers. They've been tested by time and society, and they've grown into mature people with a relationship that reflects their experiences.
It was an interesting little novel, and I actually liked it. More than I expected, if I'm being truthful.
It has that typical element of predictability, but I think it did fairly well in keeping me on my toes. I mean, you expect a happily-ever-after ending when you jump into a romance novel, so it fulfills in that regard. But it didn't disappoint me.
Not all courtships are based on mutual respect, and not all men are respectful of women.