As has been well established, marriage of convenience stories are my favorite. I probably wouldn't have picked up An Uncommon Courtship had it not been a marriage of convenience story ... and I would have been missing out on a series I'm sure I'm going to love.
Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister's shadow—which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation. Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn't be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He's free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn't know, his dream of a marriage like his parents' seems lost forever. Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent's relationship survive the pressures of London society?
An Uncommon Courtship certainly lives up to its title! After Trent Hawthorne and Adelaide Bell spend a night stranded together, they must marry to salvage her reputation. Because the two don't know each other except in passing, Trent decides to court Adelaide after their wedding. This decision drives most of the novel, and I have to admit, it did get a bit old. I appreciated the twist Hunter put on the marriage of convenience trope; I just think the "courtship" went on too long. One of my favorite aspects, though, is that virtually everyone in Trent's life thought his courtship plan was as ridiculous as I did!
Trent and Adelaide are both likeable characters, and I especially enjoyed Adelaide's journey from wallflower to confident woman. I also enjoyed Trent's family, some of whom have been the subjects of previous novels in this series. Presumably, the next novel will be about Griffith, Trent's older brother—and I can't wait! (While this is the third book in the Hawthorne House series, I haven't read the previous books, and I had no trouble following along.)
I have to say, this book has one of the best discussions of sex in marriage that I've ever read. Let me be clear: there is absolutely nothing explicit in this book, and the actual act takes place off the page. But it confronts the idea, perpetuated by novels, movies, and TV, that consensual sex is always amazing. I'm pretty sure any married person could tell you that this is not always the case. When Trent and Adelaide consummate their marriage, it's awkward and not-so-amazing. (Again, this happens off the page, and the reader learns about it later.) Trent then meets with his closest married friends, who help him understand what it means to love his wife—in both the physical and non-physical sense.
An Uncommon Courtship is an uncommon novel. From the frank look at the physical side of marriage to the focus on the biblical definition of love over feelings, An Uncommon Courtship stands out because it's different in a refreshing way. 4 stars.
Note: The subject matter may make this book inappropriate for young teens. As I said, I didn't find anything explicit or offensive in it, but parents should use their own judgement.
Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner and Christy Award finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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