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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Claiming Lady Marianne by Crystal Kauffman

Claiming Lady Marianne by Crystal Kauffman
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Stephanotis

After Marianne is caught en compromise with another woman, her husband, the vicious Viscount Cobham, is enraged. He remands Marianne to the care of her beastly grandfather with orders that she take a lover—a male lover. She is to get herself with child by the time he returns from his travels in six months. He will have his heir, one way or another. Marianne’s grandfather charges his stable master with the task, and Marianne is bound to her bed every third night to await the burly man.

Michael Ainsworth is no stud horse, and Baron Thurlow’s task is too ghastly to consider. But Michael longs for a glimpse of the pretty girl who used to cling to the paddock fence to watch the horses. When he finds her terrified and unwilling, his honor demands he protect her—despite the heartbreaking knowledge the viscountess can never love a lowly servant.

Marianne is caught in a compromising situation with another woman. Her husband, Viscount Cobham, is livid and sends her off to stay with her grandfather, Baron Thurlow. Cobham will be away for six months and instructs the baron that by the time he returns he wants to learn that Marianne is pregnant.

The baron enlists the help of stable boy Michael Ainsworth to impregnate her. Michael has worshipped Marianne from a distance since she was a girl and feels compelled to help her in any way he can.

As the story begins, you feel immediately sorry for Marianne. Her grandfather is cruel and she's married a terrible man who beats her, but then Michael comes on the scene and you know he'll be her hero in the truest sense of the word. He is gentle with Marianne, and it comes across that he truly cares for her and that he's the only man she could be happy with. He was my favorite character in the book; maybe because all the other characters besides Marianne were villains in the story and you hope for a happy ending for these two people because they really deserve it. And I always enjoy a book where the two main characters have past history.

On the positive side, the characters were well drawn, the dialogue natural sounding for the time and setting…however, and here's what spoiled the story for me: In giving them their happily ever after ending, I felt the author tried to tie up all the loose ends too quickly. I would have liked to have seen one problem resolved and then more story where you worry about the next hurdle they have to overcome. I don't want to give away any of the final scenes, but the way the problems were resolved seemed contrived. Maybe Claiming Lady Marianne should have been a longer story. One in which Marianne and Michael used their own means and skills to get their perfect and happy ending. However, if you enjoy erotic romances set in the Regency period, this is worth a read.

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