~ Had such potential but the narrative completely ruined it for me - we *never* hear the hero's perspective! (3 stars) ~
THE MARRIAGE WAGER is the first in Candace Camp's Matchmaker Series and I wish I could give it a higher rating, but I just cannot bring myself to. As others have remarked there was nothing really unusual or innovative about this book, but it would have been an enjoyable and sweet read if it hadn't been for one hugely annoying thing that I could *not* get over: we never hear Dominic's thoughts. Every historical romance I have ever read is written in third person narrative and the writer takes us back and forth between the hero and the heroine's POV (sometimes adding that of secondary characters). Though I kept on waiting for that to happen here, it NEVER did and it was extremely disconcerting. I don't know if this is how Camp normally writes her novels, but if it is I don't think I will continue reading her books.
The book had such potential because although the story is not very original, Camp is a talented writer and I found her characters interesting. I liked Constance since I always love it when the heroine is something other than the beautiful belle of the ball society girl and is a wallflower, shy, "on the shelf," or whatever. I especially liked the secondary characters of Sir Lucien, Lady Calandra (the heroine of THE WEDDING CHALLENGE, Book 3), Francesca (the matchmaker in the series), and the Duke of Rochford (Calandra's brother and Francesca's love interest in THE COURTSHIP DANCE, Book 4).
Unfortunately, at the end of the book I still didn't really have any sense of Dominic, because not only do we not ever have his perspective, but we don't even read that many exchanges or very much dialogue between him and Constance. Since we never know his thoughts, it makes the whole story of them falling in love seem contrived and hard to believe - they barely know each other. What goes through his mind when he's trying to figure out why he kissed Constance that first time without knowing her? What does he think about Constance? What attracts him to her? When did he start to love her? When does he decide that he wants to marry her? But nothing, zip, nada - *so frustrating*! Aside from a couple of passages where we see things from Francesca's perspective, it is all told from Constance's POV (and sometimes quite repetitively so) and we are never really able to get a handle on Dominic ... which is kind of essential since he is the hero of the book!!!
OTHER BOOKS IN MATCHMAKER SERIES:
Francesca, Lady Haughston is the matchmaker in Camp's series, which is kicked off by THE MARRIAGE WAGER, featuring Miss Constance Woodley and Dominic, Viscount Leighton (Francesca's brother). It's followed by Book 2 in the series, THE BRIDAL QUEST, which tells of the romance between Gideon, Earl of Radbourne and Lady Irene Wyngate. THE WEDDING CHALLENGE is Book 3 in the series and features Lady Calandra (the Duke's younger sister) and the Earl of Bromwell. And the series ends with THE COURTSHIP DANCE, which tells the long-awaited story of Francesca and Sinclair, the Duke of Rochford.
Charmning book with fun characters and just enough plot and suspense to keep you reading but not so over the top you roll your eyes. There is humor and romance and just a fun time in reading this new series. Look forward to reading all in this series. A great read.
I loved this series, definetly worth reading.
No longer in the first blush of youth and without a marriage portion, Miss Constance Woodley could scarcely imagine why one of the leading lights of Lodon society should take an interest in the likes of her. But under her benefactor's guiding hand she was transformed into a captivating creature who caught the eye of the handsome, charming and ever-so-slightly notorious Lord Dominic Leighton. And before the shocked eyes of the entire Ton, th e"nobody" and the rakish viscount showed that even in the heartless world of the marriage mart, when love was at stake, all bets were off...