Series: Ministry of Marriage #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Penguin on 28 June 2011
The Ministry of Marriage (MoM) is a select group of powerful men and women in Britain who arrange marriages between their houses. Marriage after all is a business and a desirable way to gain political or economic advantages. Love certainly never enters into things. Jane Westruther was the victim of the MoM’s meddling. She did her duty and married Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Dauntry even though they weren’t suited to each other. When Jonathon dies suddenly, Jane hopes she will be left free to live out her life as she wishes, caring for her adopted son Luke. Unfortunately, Jonathan has split his estate leaving the title, lands and guardianship of Luke to his cousin Constantine but the actual money to Jane. If Constantine and Jane can’t agree to marry then she will lose Luke and he will lose the estate.
Like many historical romance heroes, Constantine is not as bad as his reputation would suggest. After a disastrous run-in with a woman when he was young, his family and friends (apart from his brother) universally rejected him. I think Brooke was going for Byronic hero with Constantine but while he was arrogant and domineering, he lacked that fatal bad boy flaw. In short he was a victim of circumstance but he could have easily remedied that if he so chose. He works hard trying to get the estate in order and taking care of his tenants and Luke so Jane’s distain is a bit hard to swallow. Jane starts out very prim, proper and highly judgemental. She is willing to do her duty no matter the cost, even if it means trying to seduce a rake. She doesn’t want to marry the hot Constantine for her sake you understand but for the good of the child. The speed at which she welcomes Constantine into her bed is phenomenal, given she is so strait-laced. It takes her a while to get over her phobia (of sorts) but when she does, her lust knows no bounds.
I really did not enjoy the climax and conclusion as they were rushed and stretched my incredulity to the limit. The complications were fairly predictable and I found myself wanting something more. I wish there had been more information on how the MoM was run, Jane’s backstory and Montford.
This is a solid historical romance and a fairly quick read.