A Brooding Beauty

Jillian Eaton
A Brooding Beauty
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Jillian Eaton
Release Date
February 2012
Book 1 of The Wedded Women Quartet
Historical Romance

What happens after happily ever after?

The marriage of Lady Catherine Nettle and Marcus Windfair, the 7th Duke of Kensington, was declared the affair of the Season. They seemed perfect for each other… until they weren't.

Now after three years of separation Catherine wants a divorce. She can no longer remain married to a man who does not return her love and is willing to do whatever it takes - including following Marcus to the secluded cottage in the highlands where they spent their honeymoon - to get what she wants.

Marcus can no longer trust his wife after what happened three years ago, but that doesn't mean he doesn't love her. Refusing her ridiculous request for a divorce, he escapes to Woodsgate, confidant his wife will not follow him into the wilds of Scotland. Unfortunately for the Duke, this is one bet he is bound to lose.

Forced together, husband and wife reach an unusual compromise: Catherine agrees to sleep with her husband for two months, after which time Marcus will grant her a divorce. It is the perfect solution for two people who claim to no longer love each other… or is it?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Apr 30, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
162 people found the following review helpful
Emotionally engrossing and blisteringly passionate, this is book was full of surprising twists and two passionate, fascinating characters that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

Three years ago, Lady Catherine Nettle made her debut, and four months later was engaged to marry Marcus Windfair, 7th Duke of Kensington. Their union was declared the match of the Season and their happiness seemed guaranteed.

Until Marcus decided to pursue his business in Boston, leaving Catherine alone in London. Desperate to lure her husband back home, Catherine permitted rumors to reach his ears. Rumors that Marcus believed as truth. Rumors that have led to almost three years of misery, until Catherine is willing to beg Marcus for a divorce to set her free. The only problem is that, even if his honor would permit Marcus to concede to Catherine's demand, he is still hopelessly in love with his wife, and the thought of losing her forever is more painful than their sham of a marriage.

When Catherine follows Marcus to his property in Scotland (the same place where they spent their rapturous honeymoon), all their anger and hurt and still-sizzling passion reaches a boiling point and Marcus is driven to offer his wife her freedomon agreement that she stays with him long enough to produce an heir. But even this business-like agreement will not offer shelter from the storm of their emotions, and both Marcus and Catherine are forced to realize that there is no hope of a real life apartbut is there any chance for a happy life together?

In truth, my only objection to this book was the utter ease and conventionality with which the divorce itself was discussed and obtained. It took a few pages to adequately suspend my disbelief, but once I accepted the reality of the story, I was able to enjoy what a remarkable pair Catherine and Marcus truly are. Fiery and intense, neither is completely likeable, and neither behaves very well in each other's company. But their tempers and their anger made them both real people, in pain and made miserable by the one person they thought would always make them happy. Together, even at their worst, there is a spark between Catherine and Marcus, and a familiarity that makes their estrangement that much more poignant.

And, of course, the heat that fires between them makes for a few quite memorable moments of sunlight in the midst of the storm. I wish we could have seen a bit more of their growth together, before or after the final scene, but I was still cheering when Catherine and Marcus decided to trust their spouseand their own hearts.

This was also a very cleverly constructed story. The way certain details were held back, and the manner in which they were finally revealed, made for a few surprises that caught me quite off-guard, and the way the story of Marcus' separation from Catherine was explained in glimpses of memory made it feel that much more believable. There was no single incident, but a series of misunderstandings and missteps that are not individually significant, but wore both of them down. The decision to recover and fight for their former happiness gave this book its heart, and the journey was both wrenching and ultimately rewarding. The introduction of Catherine's close friends was also quite exciting, as these ladies are not only as equally uncommon as our heroine, but their impending romantic entanglements promise to be just as heartfelt and atypical as Catherine's own with Marcus.

A part of me wanted this book to be longer, to further explore Catherine's past with Marcus, and to see the events of this book in greater detail. But another part of me fully acknowledges that this story packs enough emotional punch to fill twice as many pages, and I never felt lacking or unfulfilled while reading. This was a remarkable little story that ran the gamut of emotions and left me breathless. With characters so vivid and writing so emotional, I was riveted from the opening scene to the last, and I can't wait to see what Jillian Eaton has planned for the rest of Catherine's friends in the Wedded Women Quartet!
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