Marriage Mart

The Marriage Mart - Teresa DesJardien While it wasn't the worst thing I'd ever read, there were too many things wrong with this book that I couldn't honestly bring myself to give it a more generous 2 stars and say "it was ok."

The premise had many elements I tend to favor in these traditional Regencies: an unusual spinster, handsome duke, an unlikely friendship, and said duke helping to find the spinster a match, while the duke and spinster themselves are, unknowingly, perfect for each other. I usually like these stories. I did not like this one.

There were some major things that didn't add up for me:

- The duke's "scandalous" reputation as a rakish sort and a cynic with a sharp tongue, earning him *rolls eyes* the silly nickname of "The Blade." *rolls eyes again* Sorry, couldn't help myself. So here's my problem - we're told he has this nickname and reputation, but we never actually see it. He seems like more of a scamp/rogue-ish fellow with a penchant for making outrageous remarks to our heroine, Mary. There just wasn't a strong enough characterization of the duke to make me want to root him on.

- The duke in general. Let me get this out of the way: his name is Godfrey. *pauses* Okay, now that should earn a few demerits in and of itself. Other than that, though, his thickheadedness in not recognizing that he wants Mary for himself made me want to smack my forehead in disbelief. There were points in the story where I just thought "Okay, here's where the author is going to turn this book around and have Godfrey (that name! *shudder*) realize he loves Mary and needs to pursue her before things go too far with her other suitors, whom he himself has introduced to her." Needless to say, this doesn't happen. In fact, it's not until the last ten pages, after Mary is already betrothed and, indeed, while Mary is at the church about to be married, that things turn around for Mary and the duke. *smacks forehead*

- The other woman in pursuit of Godfrey also made me super uncomfortable. I can't be sure if I can call her a "woman," actually, because we find out later that she's only sixteen. (By comparison, Mary is 28, and the duke is 35.) This Miss Yardsley is local to the area of Godfrey's ducal estate, and his sisters are pushing the match. Needless to say, this other woman (girl?) and her parents are in favor of it. Maybe the pursuit made me uncomfortable because of her age, actually. I don't know. I just know that it made me squeamish to read about her dampened muslins with the blush of her darkened nipples visible, knowing that she is supposed to be sixteen. (What were her parents thinking?!?)

- Mary is way too much of a martyr in her desire to stifle her feelings for the duke and let him live his life, seeking his own (teenage???) bride. Godfrey is so set against marriage and only considers it when Mary says that he should because she is his voice of reason and goodness. This would be fine, except he considers it with the young Miss Yardsley. *smacks forehead again* This all plays out in a very angsty way - far too angsty for a 222 page short traditional Regency.

- Then, to have it end that way at the altar with a switch of the bridegrooms just brought it to an unlikely farcical conclusion.

- A minor thing, but annoying nonetheless. We don't know what Mary's father's title is, but she is supposedly Lady Mary Wagsnall. She introduces herself as "Lady Wagsnall" and is referred to as such throughout the story. I might not be 100% brushed up on my peerage delineations, but I'm pretty sure that Mary would, instead, be "Lady Mary."

- About Mary - I actually liked her for the most part (other than the martyr thing). She seemed genuine and showed a practical side in wanting to get married so that she could start a family and in knowing that, at her age and with her average looks, she should be looking for one of the older men who is also ready to settle down. This does not, however, outweigh all of the negatives I found in this book.

The abridged version of the above: avoid this one.