Title: With This Ring
Author: Carla Kelly
Published: 1997, Signet
Category: Regency Romance
I am still working my way through Carla Kelly's backlist. :)
Lydia Perkins comes to London with her (horrible!) family so that her younger sister can have a Season and hopefully snag herself a rich husband. Her sister is the spoiled beauty, while Lydia is the sensible spinster who is a bit martyred as she deals with her overbearing mother, demanding sister, and weak father. One day she goes to help nurse wounded soldiers and meets Major Sam Reed. She earns everyone's gratitude and goodwill by being such a steady and caring nurse--Sam is especially smitten. Soon after, Lydia manages to disgrace herself in the eyes of polite society (by offending an amoral young lord), and her family practically kicks her out. Sam has the perfect solution: marry him, as he has great need of a wife anyway.
I have to say this one didn't work for me quite as well of most of Kelly's books. I liked the characters--the H/H are a standard Kelly couple: Sam is very honorable and a bit world-weary; Lydia is pragmatic and sensitive. My problem with the book is some of the incredibility (is that a word?) of the plot.
What I generally love about most Kelly books is that they are so real (by romance novel standards). The characters are normal, everyday people--not your lords and ladies of most Regencies. The problems that befall them are problems that normal people have, and they deal with those problems in realistic ways. But Sam and Lydia did the most incredible things! Sam has been lying to his mother for two years, making up stories about how he's been married and had a baby. He actually expects Lydia to play along with this story once they've returned to his home--lying to his mother forever about who she is. And she agrees to it! Then they just drop by an orphanage one day and pick up a child, like it's not one of the biggest decisions you could possibly make. Are these the actions of rational people?
So, yes, the plot annoyed me. In anyone else's hands the book would have been a total loss. But it was saved by the interesting historical detail and nice characters. I did enjoy it, just not as much as the other Kelly books I've read.