28 February 2012

Not Quite a Husband (Sherry Thomas)

I think Sherry Thomas is my favorite.

Not to say a word against Eloisa or Miranda or Gail or Meljean, of course! I heart those ladies with muchness of the heart. But Ms. Thomas's Delicious was one of the highlights of last year's February romanceathon, and after reading Not Quite a Husband, I'm just in awe of her originality and her ability to work the Angst and Misunderstandings without being manipulative.

I love the premise and the principals of NQtH so, so much. Bryony Asquith is a freakin' lady doctor, guys! In 1897! On the northwest frontier of British India! (It's now Pakistan; she's tending Muslim women who can't see male doctors.) Oh, it's delicious. (And yes, she did do her research.) What is an English gentleman's daughter doing so far off the beaten path? Fleeing the memories of her unhappy marriage, annulled three years previously. But her former husband, Leo Marsden (four years younger! and a mathematician! I loves him so moishe) tracks her down after a frantic message from Bryony's sister that their father (whose relationship with Bryony isn't great either) is deathly ill. And the thing is, he doesn't know why their marriage failed. And it broke his heart. And he's still crazy in love with her. Then they get swept up in a local anti-British uprising!

Gosh, I'm being exclamatory. It's just that it's such a great setup, and it's inhabited by such well-drawn, relatable lovers. I was rooting for them from page 1, and as their story developed and their backstory was filled in, I really felt the emotional weight of how they'd hurt each other, the real, human psychological work that they both had to do to repair themselves and their relationship. Leo's got the most amazing lines towards the end, saying "Trust is a choice. I choose to trust your love and your stalwartness. I trust that should there be a day when either the past or the present overwhelms me, you will be there to guide me past that dark moment." How . . . mature.

Oh, yeah, and the sex is great too. ;)

(P.S. Before this, I'd attempted Maggie Robinson's Mistress by Marriage, but just could not deal with it, as the protagonists, another unhappily married couple, seemed to actually hate each other, but kept bangin' anyway. I mean, the heroine thinks in the first chapter something about how she doesn't miss him at all, but she does miss his penis. Gross.)

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