Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he's back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife's love may be the greatest battle he's faced yet.

Jack Armstrong comes back to England from Canada where he’s spent years and finds his childhood best friend, Giles, on his deathbed.  Giles had just married a mere 10 days earlier so when Jack comes to visit, Giles is determined to have his new wife taken care of.  Giles makes both Jack and Elizabeth promise that they will get married after Giles dies – which they reluctantly do.  Elizabeth is mourning Giles but must marry Jack in just a few days time as his leave is almost over and he must head back to Canada.  Jack promised Giles but he’s more than pissed off about it.  Elizabeth is not the type of women he normally goes for – what he sees is a shy, mousy girl with no backbone and he's pretty happy to be heading back to Canada.

Jack and Elizabeth try to do as well as they can the first two years together, despite their strange marriage, via letters.  Jack finds himself liking Elizabeth’s letters and looking forward to them.  Elizabeth starts to fall in love with her husband a bit as his letters show him to be quite a character.  Then a woman in Elizabeth’s village who like to cause trouble comes to visit with nothing but vile intentions and lets Elizabeth know what Jack is up to with all his many women in Canada.  Elizabeth is hurt and for the next 3 years their letters are cold and terse, with Jack not knowing why the change has occurred..

Jack finally comes home when the threat of war ends and finds a completely different woman than the one he left 5 years earlier.  She’s strong willed, confident and he is more attracted to her as each day passes.  Elizabeth makes no bones about why she’s pissed off and isn’t sure she can forgive Jack.  They eventually come together and fall in love but the past has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass when you least expect it and this is exactly what happens to Jack.

Let me start by saying that I normally don’t read books that deal with infidelity. They're just not my cuppa and I try to steer clear of them.  Despite that I picked this one up because I had liked the first two books by this author so very much and was pretty sure she could write the story so that I didn’t hate the hero.  She definitely did that but unfortunately the book didn’t speak to me the way her other two did.

After Jack and Elizabeth get married Jack leaves for Canada almost immediately.  The marriage is unconsummated and as the blurb said Elizabeth didn’t necessarily expect fidelity but Jack should have shown some decency and discretion in his sexual exploits.  For him to think that what he did in Canada wouldn’t reach Elizabeth’s ears in England was just ridiculous and showed that for all Jack’s days in the military he still hadn’t grown up emotionally.

I was quite happy that Elizabeth gave him the what-for when he got back to England but I have to say that she capitulated way before I thought she should.  She definitely should have made him suffer longer.  When Jack’s past came back to haunt him later in the book I wasn’t surprised at all as the story was set up in such a way that I couldn’t help but know what was coming by the way he thought to himself – yeah, she’ll never know about that.  You know when men say that to themselves in a book that they’re going to be proven completely wrong. lol

I did enjoy Elizabeth’s personality in this book and also the battle scenes having to do with the Battle of Waterloo – those were both huge pluses for me.  I didn’t, however, feel the emotional union between Elizabeth and Jack.  It wasn’t his past…I just wasn’t feeling the love.  Yes they were close but for some reason I just wasn’t getting the emotional connection that I think I was supposed to feel.  I know that this author can make me feel that closeness because I just finished her previous book, The Sergeant’s Lady, which was excellent.  So in the end while I found this book good and entertaining it just didn’t knock my socks off.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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