Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Married by Midnight by Julianne MacLean (e-novella)

As their father slowly descends into madness, he imagines that a curse has fallen on his family and house and believes that the only way the curse can be broken is for his children to get married. He has set an ultimatum and a deadline: break the curse or lose their inheritance.

The Pembroke Curse continues to plague the Sinclairs and Garrett is the last of his siblings to marry and the deadline their father has set is less than a month away. Garrett has no desire to return home but he knows that he must do his duty -- he asks his brothers to handle all the details of his wedding -- including finding him a bride.

Lady Anne is top of the Sinclair brothers' list -- she's exactly their younger brother's type: dark haired and beautiful -- and she's a woman with few options because of her ruined reputation.

Anne agrees to the marriage of convenience because it will give her the financial and personal freedom she has longed for since her ill-fated elopement and subsequent ruination many years ago.

When they finally meet, warring thoughts race through their minds: they're both in it for the money and aren't afraid to admit it -- but, why with two such people agree to something so mercenary and ... desperate? What secrets are they hiding? And could there be something more blossoming from this arrangement?

I did a Sample Reading of this novella in August and really enjoyed the sample that I read -- it took me a while to reading it but, when I started, I couldn't stop until I reached the end!

I wasn't disappointed in my initial impressions of the book -- this was every bit as enjoyable as I had expected it to be.

Seven years ago, an incident drove Garrett away and he hasn't returned to England since then. No one knew the reason why he left but everyone is happy that he has decided to return.

And there's a reason why Garrett has returned -- another tragic incident in Greece and the loss of his boat means that he needs his father's money. He plans to secure his inheritance and leave right away.

Garrett is a man of many secrets and emotional scars. One thing that isn't a secret is the circumstances of his birth -- he knows that he is not the Duke's true son but what he doesn't know is who his real father is.

There's a lot of secrets and mysteries in this story: is the Ghost of Pembroke Palace real? What is haunting Garrett?

MacLean expertly peels back the layers that has long protected the real Garrett -- as he and Anne get to know each other better, he lets down his guard and tells her the truth about everything.

I loved Anne as a heroine. She is unflinching and honest. Garrett has shared with her all of his secret shame and she looks him straight in the eye and tells him that she will still marry him. (And she knows it isn't about the money any longer.)

She tells the story of her past in a very direct and honest way -- unashamed of the decisions she made in her younger days because she knows these decisions have made her into who she is today -- and have led her down this path. To Garrett.

It is apt that the deadline set by the Duke was on Christmas Eve -- and that the story ends at Christmas. Garrett's whole family surrounds him and he has met (and about to marry) -- quite possibly -- the most unforgettable woman in his life. Will the Pembroke Curse be broken? Will this be a Christmas to remember for the Sinclairs?

Married by Midnight is a beautiful addition to MacLean's Sinclair Family stories -- and a beautiful Christmas story as well. It is heart-tugging and heart-warming -- and a truly, truly memorable read.

I'm glad Julianne MacLean returned to Pembroke Palace to complete the story of all the Sinclairs -- it's one of my favorite series (and I've said quite a few times on this blog how The Mistress Diaries is one of my all-time favorite reads.)

Married by Midnight is the fourth installment in the Pembroke Palace (Sinclair Family) series. Julianne MacLean recently released the short story, A Kiss Before the Wedding, which is the story of the current duke and his duchess, Adelaide.

To find out more about Julianne MacLean and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.


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