Book Review of The Admiral's Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical, No 1025)

The Admiral's Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical, No 1025)
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Helpful Score: 2

This charming story is about a woman who is destined to go to the workhouse because she is down-on-her-luck and can find no work. As a last defiant gesture, Sally Paul walks into The Drake and has a cup of tea.

Admiral Sir Charles Bright's seafaring days are over and according to society, that must mean he's in need of a wife (famous line from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE). Charles Bright has two older, domineering sisters who are throwing eligible females his way. Charles thinks he can do a better job; he has agreed to meet a young woman (sister to one of his sea companions) at The Drake and marry.

Charles obviously doesnt think much of his intended; he refers to her as The Mouse. When The Mouse fails to appear, Charles looks around and sees an attractive, (if shabbily dressed) woman who is obviously in some difficulty. The waiter wants to throw her out; she is drinking her tea as slowly as possible.

Charles strikes up a conversation with her and tells her his plight. He makes her an offer of a marriage of convenience. Sally sees at once that it would be a solution short of the workhouse but declines. She leaves and looks for a quiet place to spend the night. As she is making herself comfortable in a pew of a local church, Charles arrives and sits nearby. He renews his offer and Sally reluctantly agrees.

Both of the main characters are well-drawn and are extremely likeable; Charles is a wit and Sally has a good sense of humor and a strong sense of humility and humanity. They fit well together.

However, Sally has a desperate secret and she decides not to tell Charles until later. She does tell Charles that she was married before and had a son (who died because she could not earn enough to keep her small son warm). She also tells Charles that her husband committed suicide.

When someone mentions suicide, most polite folks immediately drop the subject. Thus, Charles does not know the reason for the suicide. This is a warm and gentle story; however I had a problem with all the crying (men, women and children). On the positive side, Mrs. Kelly gives an accurate view of the child abuse and anti-Semitism that was part of Regency life in England.