Released: February 1, 1999
Title: The Marriage Contract
List Price: $8.99 (paperback)
Author: Cathy Maxwell
Description (her site):
He was a man exiled from society—handsome, unpredictable, and proud. Dark rumors surrounded his name. But Anne Burnett had signed a marriage contract binding her to Aiden Black, the Earl of Tiebauld. And although she’d never met him, she’d determined to keep her word and make theirs a marriage in truth. Because a well-bred lady with little fortune to recommend her has no choice.
From the moment she arrived, Anne fell in love with Kelwin Castle and its roguishly handsome laird. By day, he instills a fierce loyalty in his people with his masterful ways…and by night, he tempts Anne to surrender her innocence to him. But while he is willing to offer her his body, Aidan refuses to give Anne his heart…making her wonder what prevents him from truly claiming her as his wife.
Aiden Black (gah >_< I love the name), the Earl of Tiebauld, is mad…or so the rumor goes. He doesn’t fit into London society and decides to live in Scotland where he has money, a clan, and freedom to be himself. Don’t we all want that? Relatability (it is SO a word) check.
Anne is an orphan, an unwanted relation dependent on her aunt and uncle who are desperate to rid themselves of her. That’s two things against her. Add in the fact that she has had a few Seasons out and has failed to make a match. She’s doomed.
Aiden’s older sister, who lives in London because she prefers it to the “wilds of Scotland”, is ill and desperate to see their family name carried on. She takes it upon herself to see to the task since Aiden doesn’t seem like he will get to it anytime soon.
The sister marries Anne (who was practically shoved into the coach by her aunt and uncle) by proxy to Aiden. Anne is hesitant to agree to the match because she had heard the rumors, but it’s her last chance to marry and her family doesn’t want her.
Papers are signed, luggage is packed, and Anne is on her way to Scotland where she first encounters her husband with his face painted blue, dressed in a kilt hunting.
Yeah, be afraid. Very afraid.
What I liked was the “marriage” wasn’t hidden. She was upfront about it. Aiden wasn’t…appreciative…but still, she told him and documentation as proof. Aiden has two friends who were out hunting with him, Hugh who was kind and Deacon who hated her on sight.
There’s a subplot with Deacon and his brother plotting to smuggle gunpowder in preparation for war with England. Deacon doesn’t want Anne in the way or changing Aiden’s mind..using her feminine wiles… and Aiden just doesn’t want a wife, or at least he wants to choose his own wife and be present at the ceremony.
Aiden contrives a series of tasks for Anne to complete, counting on her being a weak, frail English Miss who he’d gladly send back.
Aiden is a strange man who only wants the freedom to live life as he pleased. However, being half British and half Scottish, he doesn’t know where he belongs or how to gain that freedom.
Anne is a strong, determined woman with a depressing past, but she is determined to make a future and have a family with Aiden.
It’s fun. Go read it. =)
Rating: 3 ½ stars.