Ah, Mills and Boon are back with another extremely literal title! This is a really great example of a Regency romance with a marriage of convenience – it really impressed me with its depth of character and sweetness.
Book: The Earl’s Countess of Convenience by Marguerite Kaye
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided free of charge by Mills and Boon via NetGalley. All opinions my own.
This was such a fun read! I really enjoy the trope of a convenient relationship where both parties are determined not to fall in love, but can’t help it – there’s a twist here though, in that both Alexander and Eloise don’t want to fall in love for their own reasons, rather than the usual “oh no but he/she doesn’t want me”. Eloise grew up in a home that was filled with rows, which her mother blamed on ‘passion’, so she fears love; Alexander has a job that could be compromised if his priorities change. They agree to marry so that Alexander can come into his title (weird entailments being a specialty of the genre!), but both are determined that falling in love would wreck their lives. It’s interesting to see them fight against their obvious attraction for fear of betraying themselves, rather than because they fear the other person isn’t interested.
It’s nice to see that although the attraction between Eloise and Alexander has a physical element, they also become genuinely fond of each other. They both go out of their way to do small things that would please the other person. Alexander especially has a knack for knowing what will appeal to Eloise – she’s a keen dressmaker, and he takes her to a silk warehouse, for example, which enchants her! They are also pretty good for each other emotionally. They help each other to accept the damage done by their different, but equally miserable, childhoods, and they seem to become real rocks for each other. The subplot with Alexander’s hatred of his childhood home, and the changes that Eloise makes to make him more comfortable in it, is particularly lovely.
I’m definitely going to look out more of Marguerite Kaye’s books, because this is genuinely one of the most solid couples I’ve seen in historical romance. I have no doubts that they are built to last, and it was really comforting to read about such a strong marriage and such kind and generous protagonists. Highly recommended if you need a pick-me-up read!