All right, I'm not going to lie and say I didn't have high expectations for this book based on the cover (yes, I judge a book by its gorgeous cover) and then the back cover blurb later on because I did. And wow am I happy that it lived up to those expectations. Just an absolutely wonderful, sexy, touching romance novel.
Jane, Lady Roxdale, has already endured one marriage of convenience brought forth to her from the Ministry of Marriage, where one of the prominent members is her childhood guardian, the Duke of Montford. Montford rescued Jane when she was a young girl and brought her to him home to be his ward, along with numerous other wealthy, titled, parent-less cousins and together with other prominent heads of the ton, this Ministry of Marriage arranges marriages based on land and title mergings, not on love. So when the will of the late Lord Roxdale is read and Jane is left all the money and the new Lord Roxdale, Constantine Black is left the land everyone is outraged. As a result of the late Lord Roxdales death, a loan on the mill on the property is called due and Constantine has no way to get all the money needed in time....unless he marries Jane.
The first time Jane sees Constantine he is like a prince arriving on his white horse to whisk her away from her perfectly proper life. Too bad she doesn't want to like this man that is taking her home away from her and her young nephew, Luke. When also at the will reading it is announced that Constantine is to have guardianship of Luke she know the logical conclusion is that she must marry Constantine to keep the boy that is like a son to her. As Constantine refuses to marry Jane (and has even been warned from Montford that a marriage between them is unacceptable) she sets about to seduce him. Jane is a bit nervous and terrified at this prospect as her marriage was far from passionate and happy. As these two, albeit reluctantly, grow closer Constantine shows Jane just how passionate and happy a life together can be.
Sigh, this really was a wonderful story. I find the whole Ministry of Marriage aspect interesting and something I believe could very well have happened during this time period. All the characters were written and delivered so wonderfully as well. I loved watching Constantine emerge from his protective barriers of his unfair past to show Jane what life could be. Oh, so romantic, sweet...and hot when he does! And Jane, it was great watching her emerge from her perfect shell, or Ice Maiden as Constantine first thought of her, into a passionate, loving woman. And the addition of Luke was really well done as well and I was surprised at how well Constantine took to his new guardianship. Yes there was a bit at the end that I just wanted to shake Constantine for his actions, but there were justified based on his past and I was very happy with how it was resolved. We also get to meet a few of the other cousins of Janes that will be featured in future stories and they all sound promising already! There also seems to be a small romance blooming for the Duke of Montford as well that will hopefully continue on in future stories as well. I do wish we had gotten to see a bit more of Janes past and how all these cousins grew up together but hopefully that, too, is something that will be explored more in the future. Overall though, if you are looking for a wonderfully romantic story that has no huge misunderstanding and shows true growth to your characters, Christina Brooke has delivered a winner in her debut novel and I can not wait for more from her! 4 1/2 stars
Series order so far:
Heiress in Love (Ministry of Marriage)
Mad About the Earl (The Ministry of Marriage) Jan 2012