This novel is definitely one of my overall favorites of Heyer’s so far. It’s easy to read and follow despite the language and research. I loved all the side characters and Rule most of all. The leads were very well matched for each other.
Lizzie Winwood, the Beauty, is engaged to the Earl of Rule, an older man whom she does not love. Edward Heron holds her heart, but Lizzie is too well bred to ignore the duty she owes her family to accept this great match. Her youngest sister, Horatia—Horry—Winwood, decides this situation will just not do. In a scandalously forward manner Horry approaches Rule and offers herself up in trade to her sister despite her disadvantages in looks and speech. She knows she’s not his first choice, but as Marcus obviously does not know Lizzie well enough to love her, he must agree any Winwood would do. Amused by the young girl, (he’s twice her age), Rule accepts her proposal and marries her right away.
Horry experiences wealth and freedom for the first time and goes a little wild. She learns to gamble, though she does fairly poorly, purchases things without any real thought to cost, and makes friends with unacceptable members of society. Horry comes off immature for the first half of the book because she is, but Rule keeps an eye on her in his usual casual and easy going manner and does not involve himself overmuch. He came to the marriage thinking he was in love with a widow. He did not marry the widow because he knew she could not, or perhaps, would not be faithful in the years to come and has determined Horry is and will be even if she is young and prone to fancy.
Rule’s amusement and fondness easily translate themselves to the reader. From his actions you can tell he’s falling for his young new wife. It’s harder to tell with Horry, as she spends a good portion of the book running around after Lord Lethbridge in pursuit of his friendship and the chance to pit her card skills against his. Lord Lethbridge is after revenge against Rule and uses Horry in an attempt to instigate it. Other characters seek to help him or eagerly wait in the wings watching for a chance to run to Rule with news of her scandalous ways. Luckily Rule, her brother and his friends come time and again to Horry’s rescue. A Convenient Marriage is an amusing romp through Regency England and sure to win your heart.
Rating: 4 Stars