Bachelor on the Prowl

Be My Baby Tonight

The Butler Did It

Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Come Near Me

Escapade

Everythingís Coming Up Rosie

A Gentleman By Any Other Name

Indiscreet

Jessie's Expecting

The Kissing Game

Love to Love You Baby

The Sheikh's Secret Son

Someone to Love

Then Comes Marriage

This Canít Be Love

This Must Be Love

Too Good to Be True

Waiting For You

 
A Most Unsuitable Groom
by Kasey Michaels
(HQN, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-77191-6
***
The next installment in the Beckets of Romney Marsh "saga" is Spencer's story. Now if you have been following the Beckets, there is a lot to like and you will probably rate this much higher than I did. I have not had the pleasure, so it took awhile to figure out who was who and how they all fit together. Once I did, there were still a lot of details missing, keeping me from fully enjoying the storyline.

Spencer is an adopted son of Ainsley Becket of Romney Marsh. The tale starts in America where Spencer is fighting in the War of 1812. He is seriously injured and all he remembers is a fiery haired temptress nursing him. Now he is home and he is confronted by a fiery haired temptress who collapses on his doorstep about ready to give birth. His slight memory loss means he doesnít remember exactly what happened between him and this woman. But his men remember her and he is convinced the son she bears is his. Despite his dreams of escaping from his home and his past, he offers to marry her.

Mariah Rutledge was the daughter of the quartermaster, and she helped get Spencer and his men to safety following the battle in Moraviantown. Upon reaching the sea coast, they become separated and she was left on her own, as her father is dead. She used what little money she had left to secure passage and made her way to England on the heels of Spencer and his band of men, primarily because she had nowhere else to turn.

Secrets abound at Romney Marsh, however. The Beckets have been involved in smuggling, in a way, and have a history of piracy, too. They also have an enemy, and get wind that said enemy is now back and trying to help free Napoleon from Elba while conspiring to kill all the rulers of the Europe and England. The Beckets are determined to stop him.

The story follows these attempts while Mariah and Spencer shift around each other trying to determine how they will get along as they travel from Calais to London. They definitely have heat, but can they find their hearts? Mariah is used to being in charge and doesn't let Spencer boss her around. Spencer isn't sure he likes it on the one hand, but is equally enthralled with her on the other.

If the story had spent time really developing these two and their love, I might have enjoyed it more. But the bulk of the plot was about the conspiracy. Mariah and Spencer get into dangerous situations several times and rescue each other. There is a large cast of family members and ex-pirates, as well as Spencer's men from his war days. It is difficult to keep them all separate at first, but the author treated them as old friends. Sadly, having missed the previous installments, I felt like the third wheel at someone else's reunion. It was fun to watch them encounter each other but I was lost as to their shared memories.

Otherwise, the story is well written, the love scenes engaging and the glimpses of their romance encouraging. The full romance just didn't fully develop for me and I felt like there were some things missing. Most distressing however, was the fact that the bulk of the story is about the bigger Becket intrigue and at the end, everything is left in the air for the next book. This book does not stand well on its own. If you arenít planning on finishing the series, donít bother with A Most Unsuitable Groom.

--Shirley Lyons


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