Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lady Beneath the Veil - Sarah Mallory (HH #1174 - Feb 2014)


When Gideon Albury lifts his new bride's veil he can't believe his eyes -- this dark-haired dab of a girl isn't the blonde beauty he's been courting! Stunned, Gideon resolves to seek an annulment at the earliest opportunity, but to do so he must first make sure Dominique Rainault's virtue stays intact….

Blackmailed into marrying Gideon by her despicable cousin, Dominique is just as keen to keep her distance from her unsettling husband. But despite their good intentions the marital bed beckons -- and a stolen kiss could prove to be their undoing!

This was a good book with a different kind of beginning.  Gideon has spent two months courting a beautiful blue eyed blond.  The story opens with the wedding.  When Gideon lifts the veil it isn't the woman he is expecting but a dark-haired half French girl.  Turns out that the blond is an actress and the whole thing was an elaborate practical joke played by his "friend".  Gideon is furious and plans to annul the marriage immediately.  He just has to avoid consummating the marriage.  This is easier said than done, and they end up staying married.  Now they have to live with the consequences and learn to get along.

Dominique is blackmailed into marrying Gideon by her cousin.  When the deception is discovered both she and Gideon want an annulment, but the attraction they feel for each other makes it impossible.  She must now make the best of a marriage with a man who hates the fact that she is part French.  She is determined to be a proper wife to him and listens to advice from various people, especially her sister-in-law.  Dominique buries her growing love for him because she is told that expressing her feelings would drive him away.  So she tries to keep their relationship light and is happy when they spend time together.  When she becomes pregnant they go to stay with his father who has been something of a recluse since his wife's death.  He also hates the French, but Dominique soon wins him over and brings life back to that home.  I loved seeing how her sweetness has such a wonderful effect on everyone she is around.  She isn't demanding but she has a way of getting people to want to do things her way.  She is also a bit naive which gets her into trouble a couple of times when her cousin continues his troublemaking ways, but Gideon is always there to save her.  I really enjoyed seeing her self confidence grow as she and Gideon get closer though she still believes that he doesn't love her.  I loved the ending and seeing them do things their own way rather than following along with the crowd.

Gideon has been running wild for several years after the deaths of his brother, aunt and uncle in France cause his father to get very controlling.  As a result he finds himself caught in a not very funny practical joke.  His pride won't let him laugh it off and get the annulment right away, and he quickly finds himself giving in to the attraction he feels for his new wife.  He has a hard time dealing with the fact she's half French, to the point where he can't even use her name, so he gives her a nickname.  He finds himself growing closer to her, but advice from his father on the "proper" way to treat a wife makes him keep an emotional distance between them.  I loved seeing him develop stronger feelings for her, even though he was fighting it all the way.  He kept telling himself that what he felt wasn't love, but it got harder to convince himself when he found himself jealous of little things and also that he couldn't keep her off his mind.  I loved seeing him become a man worthy of her love rather than the one who was the butt of the joke.  I enjoyed the way that he found himself wanting to do things that would make her happy, even to the point of helping her with the search for information about her father.  I loved the ending and seeing him fully accept his feelings for her.

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