First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh
- Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Dell (February 24, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780440244226
- ISBN-13: 978-0440244226
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0
Product Description:Review: This is a pleasant historical romance.
Against the scandal and seduction of Regency England, New York Times
best-selling author Mary Balogh introduces an extraordinary family - the fiery, sensual Huxtables. Vanessa is the second daughter, proud and daring, a young widow who has her own reason for pursuing the most eligible bachelor in London. One that has nothing to do with love. Or does it?
The arrival of Elliott Wallace, the irresistibly eligible Viscount Lyngate, has thrown the country village of Throckbridge into a tizzy. Desperate to rescue her eldest sister from a loveless union, Vanessa Huxtable Dew offers herself instead. In need of a wife, Elliott takes the audacious widow up on her unconventional proposal while he pursues an urgent mission of his own. But a strange thing happens on the way to the wedding night. Two strangers with absolutely nothing in common can't keep their hands off each other. Now, as intrigue swirls around a past secret - one with a stunning connection to the Huxtables - Elliott and Vanessa are uncovering the glorious pleasures of the marriage bed...and discovering that when it comes to wedded bliss, love can't be far behind.
This book introduces the Huxtable family. The eldest sister, 25 year old Margaret, is beautiful, reserved and dedicated to raising her younger siblings. The youngest sister, 18 year old Katherine is another beauty with a vibrant and sweet personality. Middle sister Vanessa is the “plain Jane” of the family but she is well loved for her wonderfully warm and sunny disposition. All of the girls are devoted to helping raise their younger brother, 17 year old Stephen.
Vanessa is a young widow who married a childhood friend who loved her dearly. He was dying and she married him to be a loving companion and to bring him happiness by fulfilling one of his dreams since so many would go unfulfilled.
Viscount Lyngate, is a very rigid, proper and dutiful gentleman. He appears at the Huxtable cottage and surprises the family when he announces that Stephen has inherited a title and estates. Elliott is to be Stephen’s guardian and is prepared to take him away immediately to put him with proper tutors for training in the ways of the nobility. The sisters are not about to let Stephen go off on his own so they all head to Stephen’s new estate under the escort of Elliott.
Elliott has decided it is time to settle down and begin the business of producing heirs. He takes the usual ton view of marriage, seeking ‘a suitable arrangement’ and not concerning himself with romance. After brief thought it appears that he will seek Margaret’s hand but Vanessa brashly proposes in order to protect Meg. The bold Vanessa and stuffy Elliott have already butted heads a few times so this seems surprising. Vanessa doesn’t have the beauty of her sisters but Elliott sees determination and life in her and so agrees to the proposal.
There is only a little bit of intrigue in the story, which I imagine will get answered later in the series. There is lots of conflict, not only with the opposite characters of Vanessa and Elliott, but also with Elliott’s estranged friend, Con, and Elliott’s beautiful former mistress.
There is some slight repetition of thought patterns in the first half of the book but it still moved quickly enough. I particularly liked the second half which displays Vanessa’s optimism and strength as she slowly charms Elliott out of his dour presence. The early battles between them and later philosophical enlightenments were enjoyable. It was nice to see an eligible lord accept and grow to love a woman for her character rather than just her looks.
The narration was not the most exciting that I have listened to as it was rather flat and expressionless so this might be a better read than audio listen. Still I enjoyed Ms. Balogh’s usual flawed and likable characters, the charming writing flow and the romance that is full without being graphic.