>> Thursday, November 17, 2005
Jane Matthews has no great hope of contracting a dazzling match--she is not wealthy or socially prominent or beautiful. When Viscount Fairfax unexpectedly proposes marriage to her, it seems like a dream come true. Not only is he titled, wealthy, and handsome, but also she has been half in love with him for a long time. Yet the proposal is such that she feels compelled to say no. Fairfax has to learn to make her a far more acceptable offer before either of them can find true happiness.Ok: girl has loved boy forever, but he never even noticed her and married another girl. Boy is now widowed and back in town looking for a mother for his beloved daughters. Boy now does notice girl, thinks she's nice and sensible, and he proposes, explaning why very clearly. Girl refuses.
Boy's best friend has also noticed girl and also thinks she's nice and sensible. He also proposes, explaning why very clearly. Girl accepts. But now that girl is engaged to his best friend, boy notices she's more than just a nice, sensible mother for his daughers, and boy is falling in love with her. And girl is still in love with boy, so what to do, what to do?
Sounds like a heroine you could just shake until her teeth fell off for behaving so stupidly? But she isn't. Really! Jane's behaviour made perfect sense to me. The key thing one needs to understand is that Jane, unlike so many Regency heroines these days, does want to marry and have a family, and doesn't think romantic, passionate love needs to be a part of this. She is perfectly willing to make a marriage of convenience, just not with a man she's as crazy about as she is about Michael.
I really can't blame her. She simply doesn't want to spend the rest of her life loving a man with all her heart, while this man thinks of her as nothing more than a convenience. And nothing about Michael's proposal makes her think that the situation would be any different. So, very understandably to me, she says no.
On the other hand, when Joseph proposes, it's a different story. The choice isn't between living her life alone and living it desperately unhappy because her beloved husband doesn't love her; it's between living her life alone and living it with a man who's just as fond of her as she is of him. So, very understandably to me, she says yes.
What I loved best about this book was the way Balogh showed Michael's feelings for Jane changing, the way he gradually started seeing her as "something more". Not just sensible, not just a good potential mother, something more than that. He starts seeing her as a woman, and he starts falling in love with this woman.
It all starts when he proposes to her. Jane's wonderful speech to him, setting him straight on the fact that she is that something more, wakes him up, and he starts looking at her differently. By the time she becomes engaged to Joseph, Michael is more than half in love with her, and he falls all the way when Joseph insists on taking Jane with him to Michael's house for the holidays.
This part is just wonderful... two honourable people now in love with each other, each not sure about the other's feelings and in circumstances in which the honourable thing is to not even try to find out. And these are people who are very honourable, and to whom doing the honourable thing is important. Maybe it's the sadist in me, but I greatly enjoyed reading about this impossible situation.
The funny thing is that, for all that I loved this book, in Jane's place, I would definitely have chosen Joseph's offer over Michael's. I recognize Michael and Jane were perfectly suited to each other, though, so I thought it was a lovely story. A B+.