Weeks ago, I finished Sweet Disorder, and this is why you cannot wait to review books, because I can’t honestly remember too many details about it. I am not going to make a snarky comment on the memorability of the book itself, even if that may apply, because the actual issue here is that I have garbage for brains and a singular talent for avoiding doing anything so productive as reviewing the books I inhale. Anyway.
Goodreads says: “Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings.
But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.
One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote—and her hand.
Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.”
Marriage of convenience is a time-honored romance trope, and this is an interesting angle on it based on some arcane but apparently true customs of smaller, more rural English towns. Political parties attempting to curry favor with their constituents is, of course, nothing new, but when the constituents are women who cannot themselves vote, you get the hilarious-if-it-weren’t-so-backward idea that local party leaders actually pimp out eligible bachelors from within that party to unmarried women so that he can also use “her” vote.
What I primarily remember feeling about this book is that the romance itself was sweet, and that Phoebe and Nick both have stereotypically atrocious family members. Phoebe’s sister is not, herself, at fault for her situation, but their mother and Nick’s are self-centered, uncaring, and oblivious to the needs of their children. I responded a bit strangely to this, in this book, because it turned out by the end (not really a spoiler) that everything wrong in the lives of the main characters is laid at the feet of the two mothers. Given the egregious nature of some of the behavior that is included in that blame game, I found it a little bit offensive and simplistic. It reminded me of my weariness toward the trope of making parents into scapegoats for bad behavior, emotional reserve, or general drama that contrives to break up the romance. It’s not that children aren’t influenced by their relationship with their parents, but the way it’s often written is to excuse baggage from a character that would be much better worked out with a therapist than one’s newly captive spouse. This isn’t quite the case with Nick and Phoebe specifically, but the sins of their mothers do cast quite a shadow that very much interrupts their burgeoning romance.
Nonetheless, this is a perfectly sweet and serviceable book, which gets bonus points for Phoebe being a widow and not a virgin.