The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck, by Kathleen Y’Barbo

book cover“Unlikely romance is sometimes just an inconvenient marriage away.”

Charlotte Beck is in London, making her unofficial introduction into society. The young woman raised in Colorado – despite her family being from England – is much more at home in the untamed west than in the stuffy confines of social protocols. While other members of her family are keen to see her marry, Charlotte wants to attend Wellesley College to study mathematics. She intends for her future to lie in business rather than in marriage. Standing in her way is her father, an astute and wealthy businessman, and his financial dealings with an English aristocratic family who are cash poor but land rich. It looks like Charlotte is going to be subjected to a loveless marriage as part of a business arrangement between the two families.

On the surface, this is a light easy read for those long summer days. It’s actually part three of a series, although there is nothing to indicate that until the end. I was slightly confused at times, but I’m not sure whether or not this was because I’d not read the first two books and was therefore missing important background information. Only towards the end do we learn a possible reason for Charlotte’s aversion to marriage, and I hope that plot point refers to something in the first book in the trilogy or else it really makes no sense to include it here. I was also surprised that the storyline was split into two parts. The first part takes place in 1887, and ends with Charlotte reluctantly agreeing to marry Englishman Alex in exchange for being able to study at Wellesley. Part two is set four years later, after her graduation, and starts shortly before her arranged marriage. This is the section of the book that concentrates with the central theme of the book’s premise, yet it’s actually shorter than part one.

While this book is published by a Christian publisher, there is very little to indicate that it is a Christian novel. Charlotte’s father only enquires as to the couple’s faith AFTER they marry, and having a Christian faith is definitely not a requirement of the marriage. This is a business arrangement first and foremost. Furthermore, the characters do not portray many Christian characteristics in their lives and actions. Two plot points focus on duplicity. Charlotte and Alex pretend they are in love while secretly having agreed to annul their marriage as soon as possible. Only her father appears to see through the ruse. Alex also often pretends to be his brother, the real heir of the family who is unable to fulfill his duties due to the effects of war. Neither deceit appears to have repercussions. The first disappears with the resolution of the story, but the second looks set to continue after the book reaches its end.

rate this reviewPublisher: Waterbrook Press

Pages: 337

Release Date: 21 June 2011

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Note: I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program.

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