Vicar's Daughter to Viscount's Lady by Louise Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied to her, used her, and abandoned her. Leaving her pregnant. She tracks him down to find he has died, and gains an audience with his younger brother. Elliot has fought to find his own path instead of living in his brother's shadow. And he's done a spectacular job. While Rafe lived a dissolute, selfish life, Elliot sought a productive one, full of physical activity and meaning. When a bedraggled, plain young woman comes to his home and claims to be pregnant by his brother, he knows it's upon his honor to do the right thing and marry her, even she did not demand this of him. He is determined to do right by her, and in the process cultivate a decent marriage, raising his brother's child as his own. Haha, the great plans we make! Soon, both Arabella and Elliott realize a comfortable marriage is not enough for either of them.
What I liked:
* I found Elliott to be a good hero, but also quite realistic. I liked that he was troubled by the fact that his wife wasn't carrying his own child, and insecure enough to resent the fact that his brother's child might inherit his title. It was only to be expected, since he's a normal human being, not a saint. I couldn't blame him. We don't always have the most unselfish feelings about things, and I would expect no less of him to struggle with this, in light of the fact that he had never been close to his brother, nor had his brother treated him well as an adult, despite his overtures. In the end, he realizes how much he cares for the child Arabella has, more than he even though possible. I liked how he was there for Arabella, despite his misgivings. I liked that he never even considered betraying his marriage vows, despite the fact that Arabella wasn't his chosen bride. Elliott was a very admirable man and I liked him a lot as a hero.
* Arabella came a long way in this book. I could understand her insecurities, uncertainties and misgivings. Going from an overbearing, unloving father, being mistreated by a man who pretended to love her only to get laid, and then dealing with the guilt of a pregnancy out of wedlock and a marriage to that man's brother in order to give her child a family. She had to come to realize she was worthy of love, and that she had the right to demand more. She bloomed beautifully with some security of a good marriage, and that's a good thing.
* I liked the development of love between Arabella and Elliott. It made sense that they had to work through a lot of the issues they faced to find love. I could see their feelings change to something more over time in the way they treated and interacted with each other.
What could have been better:
* I felt a bit emotionally detached from this story. I would have liked more of a sizzle in the story, and I'm not talking loving scenes. The love scenes actually were nicely sensuous, but I didn't feel as drawn into this story overall as I would hope. I merely felt an affection for the characters, not a strong pull towards them.
This was a good romance novel. I liked the handling of the theme of the heroine carrying another man's child, specifically the hero's brother. The fact that Arabella had been intimate and taken advantage of by Elliott's brother wasn't minimized as an issue, but neither was it handled in such a way where I felt like I couldn't get past that to believe in them as a couple. Instead, I felt as though Rafe (the dead brother)'s actions might have resulted in something good in the end, two people finding true love together. At least something worthwhile came out of his selfishness, other than his child. Overall, I was satisfied with this story.
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