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Dealing with the Viscount*

Weak Premise and Characterization

Some years ago, Ella and Devon made a business agreement. They agreed to marry. Her dowry would pay off her father’s gambling debts to Devon and get out from under her father, and Devon would marry before the age of 25 as was required before he could come into his fortune. They planted that she would leave for Scotland soon after their marriage, and she would fake her death. Instead, when she went away, it appears that she died for real. Some years later now, Devon is surprised to find her actually alive running a small bakery in a remote part of Scotland with a small child who resembles him.

How did all this come about? Is the child his? Do the two have any feelings for each other? What will become of this family unit?

While I expect a certain unreality in my romance fiction and am willing to suspend disbelief to a point, this book struck me wrong on several levels. The entire premise for their fake marriage—a trope often seen in historical romance fiction—just didn’t seem right. Since this book takes place wholly after the heroine’s supposed death, we don’t see the original stage of the marriage itself; we know of it from characters talking and thinking about it. In this setup, why would Ella need to fake her death in the first place? If they had enough feeling for each other to consummate their marriage, why wouldn’t they stay together? Or he could have chosen to set her up in another house somewhere in the country while he lived whatever life he wanted to live that didn’t include a female. Why would a woman go along with selling herself to pay off her family’s debts and choose to live a life cut off from all she knew as they would think she was dead? That’s just all kinds of wrong. Also, what woman of her station would know much about baking and especially enough for it to be a passion of hers?

Some of the “growth” of the characters seemed unrealistic as well. It is clear that Devon didn’t want a wife and a family before, but when he sees Ella again and their child, he suddenly wants to be a family man.

There are also more than the average amount of errors with grammar, punctuation, and usage that is typical of self-published books these days. Comma errors were rife, including ones lacking between independent clauses in compound sentences. The word discourse was mistaken for discord.

In all, the setup and characterization strained my credulity further than I find acceptable.