A Marriage of Convenience
Lisbeth Barlow has never much cared for the notion of marriage--all duty and appearances and submitting to one's husband. But when Lord Thomas Kepley arrives one morning to ask for her hand, he has none of those conventions in mind. He wants only to evade the marriage his father has arranged for him. And for her help in this matter, Lisbeth can enjoy all the benefits of marrying quality without suffering any of the bother--as Lord Thomas will be off to rejoin Wellington's army in Portugal the next day.Kepley's father, the Marquess of Aylsham, hasn't the slightest patience, however, with Thomas's defiant behavior, and when Lisbeth bears a child who does not have the Kepley birthmark, Aylsham believes he has more than sufficient reason to discredit her. But the more the marquess tries to break them apart, the more Lisbeth and Thomas learn how much trust, love, and happiness can be found in their all too practical union.
Lisbeth Barlow's has a special magical locket where the women of the family look and that shows them the face of the man they will marry. That is why she is not surprised when Lord Thomas asks her to marry him all of a sudden and she happily accepts. However Thomas wants to marry right away not because he loves Lisbeth but because he wants to avoid the marriage his father planned for him.
He quickly leaves for the battle front and stays away for many months during which his parents do not accept his marriage or the baby that Lisbeth gives birth to and she has to leave in his old and ruined estate sewing clothes to make ends meet.
When Thomas finally returns he also refuses to accept that the baby is his and believes Lisbeth played him false. Despite that he wants to make the marriage work and only asks her to tell him what happened and why she betrayed him. Lisbeth has a hard time understanding what is happening and feels rightfully wounded that no one believes her. Unfortunately the lack of a birthmark that all male babies of her husband's family bear prevents her husband from believing her.
The story seemed to be stuck at this point with both of them stubborn and determined to maintain their view of events. It is clear that they do deal well with each other but since they are determined not to bend the HEA seems difficult. But the author does manage to solve this with a plot twist that I have to confess I did not see coming. It's always nice in this sort of book to be pleasantly surprised and just because of that I'm going to grade it a bit higher than I initially thought of...
There's a subplot involving Thomas being a spy and another about Lisbeth's aunt but I have to confess I didn't feel they added much to the story.