Well, I’ve not read anything by Mary Jo Putney before, so this was an impulse grab at the library. It turned out to be a bad choice – it was a bit of a dud. I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish it or not, but I skimmed through parts of it just to get through it. The plots (there’s more than one going on) seemed predictable, and the characters weren’t that memorable. The hero wasn’t a rogue in the least, either, so that made no sense.
It starts off with twin sisters Mariah, Duchess of Ashton (Is that even a Regency name? Wikipedia says yes, it still makes me think of Mariah Carey!) and Sarah out for a ride in the country. Mariah is pregnant with her first child, nearly ready to deliver, and yet she wants to go rattle around in a cart to get fresh air. As they are stopped for lunch, a band of Irish thugs appears and Sarah hustles her sister into an old chapel. When she realizes they are out to kidnap Mariah, she offers herself in place, convincing them she is the one they want.
Cut back to the Ashton home, where all hell is breaking loose as Mariah is starting to give birth after being returned by the groom that had been knocked out during the kidnapping. Just then, Rob Carmichael arrives. He’s a Bow Street Runner, and friend to the Duke. Before he can even dismount, he’s told that Sarah has been kidnapped and someone has to rescue her immediately. Naturally, he rides off to do just that, catching up with the gang in Ireland and snatching Sarah out of their hands before harm can befall her.
From there they escape by boat, get caught in a storm at sea, wreck the boat, wash up on shore conveniently close to his ancestral home and show up in time to claim his unexpected inheritance. It turns out that his father and brother have both passed away, leaving Rob the title of Earl of Kellington. His family had presumed him dead too so they are shocked to see him, to say the least. Rob doesn’t really want the responsibility, and is mulling it over when lo and behold, there’s a knock at the door and his unbeknownst illegitimate daughter shows up. His lover had disappeared, bought off by Rob’s father years ago and died recently. Apparently she was the love of his life, so he welcomes the child without question. She’s a pretty wild child, prone to swearing and is mistrustful of her new family.
Then more people show up – a creditor demanding payment for the dead brother’s debts, and a woman claiming to be the fiancee of the dead brother, expecting Rob to step in and marry her instead. Mariah and her husband and baby arrive as well, despite the fact she just endured a terrible childbirth (she was out cold five days after the birth), followed shortly by more family members. At this point, Rob decides it would be a good idea to marry Sarah and so that happens in a short space of time. (Mariah conveniently brought the perfect dress with her for a wedding gown!) They agree they aren’t in love, so there’s no expectation of a hot and heavy wedding night; it’s more like friends with benefits and I didn’t feel any of the chemistry between them that Ms Putney keeps telling us exists.
The kidnapping plot raises its ugly head again, Rob and Sarah eventually resolve the issues that kept them from feeling twu luv before and the book finally plods to an end. I was happy to reach the last page and I fear I won’t be ready for another Ms Putney book anytime soon!