ARC Review – ‘Marry In Haste’ by Anne Gracie

Title:  Marry In Haste
Author: Anne Gracie
Genre:  Romance (Historical/Regency Romance)
Date of Publication: 2nd May, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

31621184.jpgFrom the award-winning author of The Summer Bride comes the first in a charming new historical romance series where marriages of convenience turn into true love matches.

Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.

When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.

Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?

I adore Anne Gracie’s romances and had high expectations for this one – thankfully, it did not disappoint! I can’t believe I’m giving so many 5-star reviews lately, but I’m on a winning streak so far. 😀

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I’ve read a TON of regency romances in my time, and it’s exhausting sorting the wheat from the chaff – there are some gems in the genre, but you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, if you’ll allow me to mix several metaphors! However, Anne Gracie consistently entertains and delights me, and I highly recommend you pick up this book and then peruse her previous publications if you’re in the mood for a lovely heartwarming romance.

Our hero, Cal, starts off being rather aloof and arrogant – being raised in privilege and then rising in the ranks of the army, you can see why he’d be high-handed and commanding. I found him a little frustrating at the start when he was spectacularly USELESS at dealing with his estranged sisters (you can’t snap orders at family, yo!) but then it grew endearing just how hopeless he was in the face of their sulking and defiance. I also enjoyed his awe and respect for our heroine, Emmaline, when he saw how easily she swayed his sisters and directed the girls under her tutelage. Great to see a male protagonist who appreciates competence in a woman!

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Emm is wonderfully cool, calm and collected; I love that she takes time to think through Cal’s proposal before accepting it as the best option for her. Too often in these romances, the heroines will have modern sensibilities and even in a situation where the rake has compromised the virginal debutante and damaged her reputation beyond repair, she’ll still defiantly refuse marriage because she’s holding out for true love or some such. :/

It drives me nuts because it’s so unrealistic to the time period when reputation is everything, and without it, the woman would be lower than pond scum! Marriage was the only accepted way of ensuring a comfortable future for women. So Emm very sensibly weighs up the pros and cons of keeping her secure job and independence or marrying Cal – please, book gods, give me more rational heroines in this vein! ❤

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Don’t mistake composed and rational with boring, however – Emm has some amusing banter with Cal, I snickered at her teasing him and their witty exchanges throughout the book! I do enjoy when the heroine pokes fun at the hero when he’s being stuffy and overbearing and brings him back down to earth. 🙂

I felt like I’d seen all the variations possible in a regency romance, but then along comes ‘Marry In Haste‘ to give me a taste of something new. What surprised and thrilled me was the way that Cal trusted and confided in Emm – even before the whole inevitable ‘falling in love’ part, these characters went for honest communication and divulging personal details over stubbornly keeping quiet and stoking the fires of conflict. I love it!

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One of my pet peeves is the Giant Misunderstanding that usually shatters the couple’s marital bliss and drives them apart when it could so easily be resolved if they just talked to each other. And Cal and Emm show how it’s done! There’s still delicious tension and (seemingly unrequited) pining between them, there’s still the slow beautiful development of their affection and love for one another; being mature grown-ups who talk out their issues doesn’t mean the plot is over in one chapter, it enhances the depth of their bond and allows for other developments.

With this genre, it’s not unusual for my main investment to be in the main couple – after all, you are reading to see the two main characters dance around each other before coming together, overcoming an obstacle and then living happily ever after. What I love about this author is that she very deftly builds up a fascinating and engaging supporting cast of characters as well – I found myself quite invested in Cal’s sisters and other minor characters who pop up along the way. Sometimes these ‘sequel bait’ characters are bland and blatantly filler, and I end up flicking past their pages til the romance gets underway, but instead, I was actually hooked and hoping for more scenes of Cal or Emm interacting with the girls! I really enjoyed the family dynamic being built up. 🙂

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In summary, the romance was very well-written and the characters easy to root for – A++, would read again! ❤

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 kitties approve this book!

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Disclaimer: I received a digital copy free from Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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