Monday, March 29, 2010

The Counterfeit Betrothal - Mary Balogh

The Tender Trap

Lady Sophia Bryant had no intention of ever marrying. However, her own parents had been estranged for some fourteen years, and her one desire was to bring them together again in love. Surely, if she were to announce her betrothal -- even a false one -- they would be forced to see each other at last.

Lord Francis Sutton was perfect for such deceit. Devilishly handsome and a notorious rake, he was always agreeable to games of passion, especially those in which he had nothing to fear and nothing to lose. The trap was set... if only Lady Sophia could keep her foolish heart from falling prey to her brilliant snares...

After reading The Trysting Place I wasn't sure that I wanted to read the other books in the so called  Waite trilogy, but the reviews were good and the plots were interesting so I decided to try them. Last weekend I finished the Counterfeit Betrothal and I have to say that this was a very enjoyable story.

Lady Sophia Bryant's parents separated when she was four years old. Since that time she has lived with her mother in the country and she spends her holidays one or two weeks a year with her father. This has left her with no wish to marry but one day, on an outing with friends, she concocts a mad scheme... she and her friend Lord Francis Sutton, a perfectly eligible gentleman but with a rakish reputation,  will pretend to be engaged so that her parents will be forced to meet to speak of her future and maybe that will bring about a reconciliation.

So this is a story about two couples, Sophia and Francis and her parents. Sophia's parents were madly in love with each other but when her father did something very wrong her mother was unable to continue living with him. A betrayal is not easy to forget and she felt that she would never be able to live with her husband and trust him the way she did before. While Sophia's idea might seem a bit mad at first the truth is that it works perfectly. Unable to say no to the daughter he loves but with serious misgivings about Lord Francis, Sophia's father asks for her mother's help in convincing her that the she should not go ahead with the betrothal.

I thought it all rather funny, that Sophia's parents were so concerned with her when she was equally concerned about them and determined to keep with her bogus engagement till they are brought together. And the best thing is the witty dialogue between Sophia and Francis, they met as toddlers when Sophia was always chasing Francis and he was always playing pranks on her, now that they are grownups they are both decided to remain single but this counterfeit betrothal makes them spend a lot of time in each others company and the dialogues between these two are absolutely hilarious. I loved Ms Balogh twist for these characters...

Regarding Sophia's parents I liked their storyline a bit less. It was obvious from the beginning that they still loved each other and while I could understand what had happened in the past I think they should have been much quicker in talking about their feelings and who was important to them. As it was they are only made to talk about what they feel due to an outside event. All the time they were together they were assuming wrong things about one another and I thought that was a shame as "marriage in trouble" is one of my favourite storylines in romance.

Still they were both pretty good, it takes a good author to write two such different stories in the same book. One filled with carefree moments and funny lines and the other full of angst and poignant moments, one lighter and the other a more complex relationship. I closed the book with a happy sigh!

Grade: 4.5/5




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