An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley
An Arranged Marriage – the first book in the “Company of Rogues” series – tells the story of the leader of this group of men, or “Company of Rogues”, as they are called. Nicholas Delaney formed the “Rogues” while away at school. He formed this group to fight against the bullying that was notorious at boarding school. The Rogues were not bullies themselves, however they certainly got into their share of scrapes in their school days. They span a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities. Some were titled, some were not, some were outgoing some were shy and bookish. Nicholas is seen throughout this series of books as the obvious leader. He is intelligent, logical and the confidant of all – the keeper of secrets.
This story begins with Eleanor Chivenham being drugged by her brother who arranges her rape. The rape is carried out by Lord Stanbridge who is trying to prove he is not a homosexual. At the time Lord Stanbridge doesn’t realize that the young woman he is having sex with is a well-brought up young lady not a prostitute. When he discovers her the next day and realizes the implications of his actions, he tries to rescue Eleanor by offering marriage to his brother, who we find out is Nicholas Delaney.
Nicholas accepts Eleanor as a wife and marries her but is then immediately embroiled in uncovering a plot to liberate Napoleon – a job that has him pretending to be the lover of a vindictive French brothel owner. Nicholas and Eleanor approach their arranged marriage with a practical dignity; each having their own reasons for wanting this marriage, but both start having feelings for the other. Eleanor sees the trouble and pain beneath Nicholas’s smooth facade and Nicholas stirs Eleanor’s senses despite her attempts to keep her heart protected.
As Nicholas has more and more difficulty performing his job serving his country (which requires him to play the role of lover to the evil brothel owner) as he grows more and more attached to his wife. He calls on members of the Company of Rogues to help him both with his job as a spy and to help maintain his fragile marriage. As the tension increases the Rogues are tested but in true Regency romance fashion, love conquers in the end.
Although on first read, I didn’t really like this book. I was used to the light and easy reads of other authors. A Jo Beverley book is NOT an light and easy read! There is substance; there are difficult topics discussed. These books often are uncomfortable to read but always a rewarding read if you finish it!
I admit it….I’m a sucker for a series of romance books – especially a series of Regency Romances with the connecting theme being a group of rich and powerful men. Jo Beverley attacks some of the most unpleasant topics of the time. Many of her books explore the lack of rights of women of this time and many deal with the class differences. Most of her books have very strong heroines.
Many of Jo Beverley’s book have won one or more awards. An Arranged Marriage was a RITA Finalist, won a Reader’s Choice Award, won Romantic Times Best Regency Novel and was voted a Bookrak Bestseller.
Reviews of Jo Beverley sing her praises!
“…today’s most skillful writer of intelligent historical romance.” Publishers Weekly
“One of the great names of the genre.” Romantic Times.