Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford

The Basics:
Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Historical Romance
Published March 3, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads 

Why I picked up this book:

I'm not the biggest fan of 'second chance' romance stories, but Married to a Perfect Stranger sounded like a neat twist. Instead of being a second chance, it's really a first chance for John and Mary, who barely knew each other when they married. I liked the idea of those bland first impressions being, well, wrong.

Mary Fleming and John Bexley are the "white sheep' of their large families, written off as hapless, boring—and thus suitable for each other. But they're no sooner married than John is sent off on a two-year diplomatic mission. 

Upon his return, John and Mary find that everything they thought they knew about each other is wrong. They've changed radically during the long separation. They have to start all over. It's surprising, irritating—and somehow very exciting...

My Thoughts:

Up front, I thought John was a bit of an arse. What is it with these historical heroes and their little temper tantrums when they don't get the wife they thought they wanted? Clearly it was a theme at the publisher that month - wives that didn't quite come up to snuff, and turned out to be better for it; husbands who were also a bit different than expected, and who were really pouty about their wives.

Anyways, I found Married to a Perfect Stranger to be a bit slow. It's not a flashy story, by any means, and for some reason, I felt the limitations of life in a Regency townhouse much more strongly here than I normally do. Much of the story is from Mary's perspective, and her side of the story focuses on getting her domestic space into shape.

What I loved about the story is that we're not dealing with the upper crust here - John and Mary are solidly middle-class, positioned there by John's work with the Foreign Office. They have two servants, they don't have all kinds of lofty connections, nor the benefit of a title or money to promote their interests. It was a nice change from the norm.

I also really liked the way that Mary truly respected and was, at times, in awe of her husband, and the thoughts that John had around that. It's entirely fair that he would seem worldly, wise, and important to her given that he'd been on a diplomatic trip to China and so on. 

Unfortunately, as I said, the story was a bit slow for me. I was a lot more interested in the granddaughter of Mary's neighbour and what she was up to, than what Mary was doing. 

Bottom line:

Not my favourite, but a solid little romance nevertheless, Married to a Perfect Stranger is a bit out of the ordinary: a solidly middle-class family, a heroine on the quiet and demure side, and a hero who isn't perfection personified. Check it out if you like your historical romance on the gentler side.

3.5 stars
For fans of historical romance, painting, quiet romances

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of Married to a Perfect Stranger:

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