Married to the Viscount, by Sabrina Jeffries

>> Tuesday, August 24, 2004

After reading Sabrina Jeffries' After the Abduction, I realized that despite certain problems, this author's books have always worked very well for me. And then I read Married to the Viscount.

Abigail Mercer was breathless with anticipation at being reunited with Spencer Law, whom she met in America and later married by proxy. But now the dashing Viscount Ravenswood denies all knowledge of their union! Too many witnesses have made it impossible for the secretive Spencer to reject his "bride" without causing a scandal, but he has sworn never to marry. So he proposes a marriage in name only until they can locate his mysteriously absent younger brother Nat—who is responsible for everything!—and untangle this messy affair.

Abigail is incensed, irate . . . and irresistibly attracted to this handsome, infuriating man who hides his smoldering passion behind a proper exterior. So the lady will agree to his terms on one condition: Spencer must seal their bargain with a kiss. But when Spencer agrees, he finds that one deep, lingering, unforgettable kiss isn't nearly enough. And keeping his hands off his pretty wife is going to be much harder than he thought . . .
As I said, I'd previously liked all of SJ's books, and this one started out pretty good, so when I got about halfway through, I was really surprised by how much I was hating it. It improved a little bit near the end, but still, my grade would be a D+.

My main problem was that I truly disliked both main characters. I found Abby tedious and boring. She had absolutely no sense of humour and took herself oh so seriously. There's this one scene, in which her fichu drops to the floor during a ball and one of the dancers slips on it, bringing down the whole floor. This could have been quite a funny scene, actually, but Abby's reaction is to burst into tears and blame Spencer for the tragedy of it all, because she'll become the laughinstock of the ton. Oh, give me a break.

And I really was sick of her going on and on about how inadequate she is, and how Spencer doesn't want to be married to her because she's unworthy due to her breeding and looks. That would have been an understandable reaction at first, but Spencer's actions made it pretty clear that it wasn't the case. And yet, the dense nitwit kept on with her litany. Oh, and get a little self respect, woman! I really liked her much better in the 5 minutes she acted like she thought Spencer wasn't good enough for her, instead of going after him begging.

I disliked her preachiness, too. Things like her attitude towards servants really grated. It's anachronistic, of course, but I don't think that was really what bothered me. I guess that the behaviout she tolerated from Mrs. Graham's would have pissed me off even in a contemp.

Spencer I thought was quite a bit of an idiot, especially in regards to his reasons for not wanting to marry, ever. I mean, ok, so there's *a possibility* that he won't be able to have children due to a war injury. His conclusion: he'll never be able to marry because his wife will then hate him when she sees that she's not getting pregnant. Let's poke some holes in that logic. 1) there are women who don't want children. Really. I'm one of them 2) Why not marry a widow who already has children from her first marriage? Stupid, just stupid.

Oh, and btw. I mentioned that the doctors said there was "a possibility" that he would be sterile. Spencer becomes sure that this is a fact once years go by and there are no by-blows from his mistresses. What on Earth does this mean? That since there was a chance, *a chance*, mind you, that not taking precautions was safe, he simply didn't take them, just like that? Even more stupid. Or was he *expecting* to have bastard children with his mistresses? That doesn't speak very well of him, as far as I'm concerned.

The characters were locked in the same boring dynamic throughout most of the book. Spencer: "I want her so much, but I can't, can't, can't marry her". Abby: "He doesn't think a woman like me is good enough for him, that's why he won't marry even though he desires me". After hundreds of pages with no growth on the part of these two, I was ready to throw the book out the window.

The plot didn't help, either, since it was based on another character's attempt at meddling in Abby and Spencer's lives. I guess I just hate meddlesome, since I also detested the very irritating Lady Brumley.

Oh, and those little snippets at the beggining of each chapter, from the servant's guide were so cute they almost made me puke. Hmm, even thinking about this book makes me grumpy, I'd better stop ;-)

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