A Most Inconvenient Marriage

A Most Inconvenient MarriageA Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Bethany House on December 2, 2014
Pages: 336

 

Abigail Stuart may have found her calling as a nurse during the Civil War, but as the fighting draws to a close she dreads returning to the home from which she fled. When a dying soldier asks her to marry him so that she may care for his ailing sister and look after the family farm, Abigail is certain that his offer provides a solution to her problem. Arriving at the farm in Missouri as the widow of the late Jeremiah Calhoun, Abigail is met with loving arms by Jeremiah’s mother, scepticism from his sister, and confusion from the fiancée he left behind. Even if her new neighbours are hesitant about welcoming a Yankee into their circle, her nursing skills and knowledge of horses make her an asset to the community.

Abigail has barely settled into life on the Calhoun farm when an invalided soldier arrives, claiming that he is Jeremiah Calhoun and that he has been in hiding for the past few months. Abigail’s neat new life is quickly shattered, and she scrambles to convince the Calhouns that she never intended to trick them—she truly believed she married a man named Jeremiah. Just who was the injured soldier that she wed, and why did he send her here? Will Jeremiah allow her to remain on the farm, or will she be forced back to the home she detests?

Jeremiah has been dreaming of the day he would be reunited with his fiancée, but he never imagined he’d arrive home to find a stranger pretending to be his wife, and his fiancée having moved on to another beau after believing him dead. He’s determined to run Abigail Stuart out of Missouri and back to Ohio, but he can’t deny that his sister needs her medical assistance, and that he can’t keep the farm running with his war injuries making it hard for him to work. He accepts Abigail’s assistance, but only until he regains his strength and his horse has foaled. By that time, he hopes to have won back his fiancée. But after months of working side by side with Abigail, will he have won the heart of his inconvenient wife instead.

Like many readers of historical romance, I’m a sucker for a marriage of convenience story, but A Most Inconvenient Marriage doesn’t feature your typical scenario.

Like many readers of historical romance, I’m a sucker for a marriage of convenience story, but A Most Inconvenient Marriage doesn’t feature your typical scenario. Abigail’s “marriage” lasts hours at the most, and is arranged so that she can provide assistance to her husband’s family—or so she believes. It isn’t until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up that her situation truly becomes inconvenient. Jeremiah finds himself with a wife he doesn’t want, while trying to woo back the fiancée he’s dreamed of all throughout the war. The situation may be inconvenient to Jeremiah, but Abigail was quite content to care for his family and farm.

I really admired the character of Abigail. She’s a hard worker who puts up with a lot of people who don’t truly appreciate her efforts—from Jeremiah’s stubborn sister, Rachel, to the neighbours who dislike her purely because she’s from the North. Even if she gets herself into potentially dangerous positions, she always means well, and she isn’t scared of doing something unconventional if it benefits those she cares about. Her pranks with the neighbouring children and attempts to cheer up Rachel warmed my heart, as did her rudimentary physiotherapy sessions with Jeremiah.

I really admired the character of Abigail. She’s a hard worker who puts up with a lot of people who don’t truly appreciate her efforts.

It took me longer to warm up to Jeremiah, particularly because he was so hung up on his fiancée, Laurel, and was initially pretty mean to Abigail. When he returns home, his main concern is winning back Laurel, and Abigail is merely an obstacle to his goal. Since I’d spent a while getting to know Abigail before Jeremiah’s arrival, I couldn’t see why he was so enamoured with Laurel. After a while, I began to realise that Laurel was the only thing that had kept Jeremiah going during the war—after he’d lost his friend, injured his leg and been forced to hide out behind enemy lines, she was all that remained of his former life, all that reminded him of who he used to be. If he could be reunited with Laurel, he could prove to himself that he was the man he was before the war began, in spite of his crippled leg. His situation reminded me of the many shotgun weddings that occur before men leave for war, often so that the men have someone to think of and give them hope when they’re at battle.

One of the reasons why “Jeremiah” chooses Abigail to send to his family is her knowledge of horse-farming. I’ve got to admit, I do not see the appeal of horses at all. Growing up, I felt like the only girl in my class who didn’t go through a “horse phase”. There was a riding stable situated right outside my village, and I still had no desire to get on a horse, or even read a book about one. A Most Inconvenient Marriage may be the only book about horses that actually got me interested in the subject. Abigail’s passions definitely intrigued me, and I could understand her sadness at being separated from the horse she had bred back on her family farm with her father. There weren’t too many horse-farming details to bore me, but just enough to let me get a feel of the kind of work Abigail and Jeremiah were trained in. The farm, as well as the surrounding area and Jeremiah’s family, felt real to me.

A Most Inconvenient Marriage may be the only book about horses that actually got me interested in the subject.

I studied the US Civil War for an entire year in high school, and I remember getting bogged down in dates and statistics about battles. I loved social history, and wanted to learn about how real people were impacted by the war; men like Jeremiah, and the families they left behind to fend for themselves. I certainly got a sense for how families like Jeremiah’s attempted to manage after the war ended. Their situation wasn’t easy, with their livestock mostly sold off and seriously depleted, no money to hire hands to plant crops, and at the mercy of bushwhackers who were roaming the area and stealing horses. The neighbours are at odds, shunning those who chose the opposite side during the war, even if it means refusing to trade with each other, or ignoring the help of a nurse simply because she came from the North. Regina Jennings paints a fantastic picture of the South after the Civil War comes to an end.

The romance in A Most Inconvenient Marriage is a slow burner, naturally, since Jeremiah is determined to win back Laurel and sees Abigail as an impediment to his goal. When Jeremiah and Abigail do begin to see each other in a favourable light, the romance is definitely worth the wait. And when the bushwhackers begin causing chaos? This book becomes impossible to put down. I may have been guilty of handing my six-month-old son to my husband as soon as he walked in the door this evening so that I could finish up the final chapter of this book in peace. If you like unconventional romances with a drop of suspense and a cast of endearing secondary characters, you won’t want to miss A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

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