Caz's Reviews > How I Married a Marquess

How I Married a Marquess by Anna Harrington
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it was ok
bookshelves: arc, romance-1800-1850, aar, disappointing

I've given this a D+ at AAR.

This is the third book in Anna Harrington’s Secret Life of Scoundrels trilogy which follows three men who served together during the Napoleonic Wars as they find love and a happily ever after. I reviewed the previous book, Along Came a Rogue, and while I had some issues with the pacing and certain aspects of the plot, I enjoyed it overall and felt that the two leads shared a strong emotional connection. I was therefore eager to read the final book in the series, but oh, dear – what a disappointment.

I reckon that approximately seventy-five percent of How I Married a Marquess is comprised on the following: intense make-out sessions, sex scenes and mental-lusting by the bucket-load. Actually, I suspect that’s a conservative estimate. The story, such as it is, is buried beneath the shed-load of "how could he make her feel this way?”s and "no other woman had ever had this effect on him”s (my paraphrases); the hero is a selfish git for much of the story and the heroine has way too many TSTL moments.

We met Thomas Matteson, Marquess of Chesney in the last book, when he was shot and critically injured. This story takes place around a year later, but while he has fully recovered physically, he is suffering from what I can only suppose is a form of PTSD, because he is plagued by recurring nightmares, jumps at loud noises and has panic attacks, which he generally wards off by shagging whichever of his current paramours is to hand.

What he wants, more than anything, is to get his old life back. Following his army service, he worked for the War Office as a spy, but since his injury it seems that intelligence work is not an option as word has spread that he has ‘lost his nerve’. So when the Earl of Royston contacts him to ask for his help in apprehending a highwayman who is robbing his houseguests and promises that he will pull some strings at the War Office in return, Thomas jumps at the chance to prove himself and heads off to Royston’s country estate in Lincolnshire to join the house party.

On his first evening there, he encounters Josephine, daughter of Lord and Lady Carlisle, and is immediately and strongly attracted to her. He likes her intelligence and her spirit and wants her with a ferocity he’s never before felt for any woman; but he is intent on getting his life back and has no interest in any permanent attachment, which is, of course, the only type of attachment possible when the lady in question is, well, a lady.

But Josephine has secrets, and her first conversation with Thomas spooks her badly when she realises he is the sort of man who will be able to discover them. How she knows this when she’s known him for less than five minutes, I have no idea, but there it is. She tries to avoid him, but the pull of his heated sapphire gaze and overall gorgeousness is too much for her to resist, their first kiss takes place the next morning and after that, they’re snogging each other silly at almost every opportunity. I counted four make-out sessions by the 40% mark, and my Goodreads update says: “Some authors need to learn that sometimes, less is more and that there is more to creating sexual tension than having your H/h sucking face every ten pages.”

Although Josephine has been brought up by the Carlisles, she is actually an orphan, adopted by them when she was six. Not surprisingly, she is committed to helping the orphans that remain at the Good Hope Orphanage and has discovered that Royston, who is the patron, has some sort of scheme going on whereby he arranges for the by blows of the nobility to be placed there in return for political favours. Having no proof, she can’t expose him, so instead she does what she can for the place financially… and I don’t think it will come as any surprise when Jo’s Big Secret is revealed.

That is pretty much the extent of the plot. Thomas wants Jo to give up her dangerous hobby, she refuses. Even when she is almost caught, she still refuses, and then ignores his clear instructions to lay low – which are, admittedly, a bit heavy-handed, but nonetheless expressed in terms of concern for her safety. That’s an excursion way too far into TSTL territory in my book. Mind you, Thomas isn’t any more likeable. He’s quite sexy in a dark, brooding “I must have you NOW!” kind of way, and on the few occasions he gets to show his Sooper Spy Skillz, it’s obvious he was good at his job. But his focus is so firmly on returning to his life as a spy that for most of the book, Jo runs a poor second to that ambition, even though her sexual healing miraculously cures his PTSD.

It’s clear from the previous novel in the series that Anna Harrington can write, knows how to tell a story and can create attractive characters. Towards the end of this book, Thomas’ plan to thwart Royston, keep Jo out of danger and rescue a wrongly-imprisoned man is well-written and fun to read, but it’s too little too late. Otherwise, How I Married a Marquess has little plot to speak of, the central characters are unappealing and practically the entire book revolves around sex. If Thomas and Josephine aren’t doing it, then they’re thinking about it, and my eyes started to glaze over every time they started an internal monologue about how attractive the other person was and how much they wanted to roger them stupid. I like a bit of steam as much as the next person, but there needs to be an appropriate build up, and that just isn’t present. There is hardly any sexual tension between the couple because they get into the sexual situations so quickly, and there is no sense of any deeper emotional connection between them.

At this point in a review, I might normally sum up by saying something like “if you enjoyed the author’s other books, then you might like this one”, but given that I’ve enjoyed other books by Ms. Harrington and didn’t enjoy this one, I’m not going to. In fact, I think that anyone who enjoyed her other books is likely to be disappointed.
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Reading Progress

March 19, 2016 – Shelved
March 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 10, 2016 – Started Reading
April 10, 2016 – Shelved as: arc
April 10, 2016 – Shelved as: romance-1800-1850
April 11, 2016 –
40.0% "Meh. This is the fourth or fifth make-out session so far. Some authors need to learn that sometimes, less is more and that there is more to creating sexual tension than having your H/h sucking face every ten pages."
April 11, 2016 –
48.0% "My words, not the author's:\n \n H: (to h) You've just done something stupid that I expressly told you NOT to do; we've been shot at and almost captured - let's shag!""
April 11, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 6, 2016 – Shelved as: aar
May 6, 2016 – Shelved as: disappointing

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by Caz (last edited Apr 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Melanie wrote: "I think we read different books, because I don't know how you didn't love this book. I thought it was wonderful--fast-paced, interesting characters, and a hero in Thomas that I fell in love with. B..."

For the record, I don't have "bad" taste - I just have MY taste, and this book wasn't to it. That's the nature of reviews.

This read like one sex scene after another to me and I didn't get any sense of an emotional connection between the protagonists.

AAR isn't "my" blog - it's one of the biggest and oldest romance reviewing sites on the internet and if you look around, there are lots of people who post reviews on GR who post their reviews with links to their blogs or say where their reviews are going to appear, so I'm not doing anything different to anyone else.


message 2: by Lyuda (new)

Lyuda Better luck next time, Caz!


message 3: by Bubu (new) - added it

Bubu This is a joke, right?

Caz, I love and appreciate your 'bad' taste. Don't ever stop having a 'bad' taste and sharing it with us.


message 4: by Lyuda (new)

Lyuda @Bubu, Ditto!!!


message 5: by Lady Wesley (new)

Lady Wesley Someone who just joined Goodreads this month probably isn't qualified to judge whether you have good or bad taste.

As you and I mostly agree on books we both read, I think your taste is impeccable.


Phoenix77 What Melanie doesn't realize is the difference of opinions between readers is why reviews work. Books with all glowing reviews and 5-stars across the board are unrealistic.

(view spoiler)


message 7: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Caz wrote: "Melanie wrote: "I think we read different books, because I don't know how you didn't love this book. I thought it was wonderful--fast-paced, interesting characters, and a hero in Thomas that I fell..."

Keep on sharing your 'taste' with us! I'm usually in complete agreement with you and always appreciate your opinion.


message 8: by Ally (last edited Apr 25, 2016 07:51PM) (new)

Ally Melanie has really strong feelings about a book. Mazel. Congrats. It's nice to feel strongly about something. What's not so nice is to cast aspersions while doing so. May we all have different and unique opinions. And Caz, I'm sorry this book was ick for you. May your next read kick serious ass. And may Melanie find Goodreads peace.


message 9: by Becca (new)

Becca Keep on sharing your reviews, Caz! I appreciate your insight and also that even if you give a negative review, you always provide a well thought out rationale. If I was an author, this is the kind of criticism that I would want! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!


message 10: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Becca wrote: "Keep on sharing your reviews, Caz! I appreciate your insight and also that even if you give a negative review, you always provide a well thought out rationale. If I was an author, this is the kind ..."

Aw, thanks for that. All views are subjective, of course and if we all liked the same things, life would be very boring. But my tolerance level for bad books is low and I think it's important to tell people who visit sites like AAR the truth, especially when they're thinking about spending their hard earned cash on a book.


message 11: by Lady Wesley (new)

Lady Wesley I will always take the advice of Caz, one of the ablest and most respected reviewers in the historical romance genre, over the opinion of a troll.


message 12: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Charley wrote: "RT gave it 4 stars and HEA listed it as a MUST READ, so I read it and was not disappointed. I thought this book was wonderful, fast-paced, with
characters who had real problems and great sexu..."


Sorry to disillusion you, but RT gives practically EVERYTHING 4 and 5 stars, so they're not the most reliable of indicators.
I'm glad you liked the book, but perhaps when you've read some of the REALLY good writers in the genre, you might find yourself revising your opinion.


WhiskeyintheJar/Kyraryker Oh Caz, you and your bad taste ruining my feed! ;)
I gave the first book in the series 1.5 stars, you're amazing for making it to the third.


message 14: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Kyraryker wrote: "Oh Caz, you and your bad taste ruining my feed! ;)
I gave the first book in the series 1.5 stars, you're amazing for making it to the third."


Heheheh. I didn't actually read the first one, but haven't really got the desire to go back to it after this one.


message 15: by Wendy (new)

Wendy OMG! What a great review! I'll definitely give it a miss....


message 16: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Wendy wrote: "OMG! What a great review! I'll definitely give it a miss...."

Ta. It's probably why she asked I not be allowed to review her next one. Like I've got time to read sub-par authors when there's good stuff out there.


message 17: by Bubu (new) - added it

Bubu Caz wrote: "Ta. It's probably why she asked I not be allowed to review her next one. Like I've got time to read sub-par authors when..."

:O

Okay, I'll definitely never read another book of hers ever again.


message 18: by Lyuda (last edited Feb 08, 2017 08:13AM) (new)

Lyuda Why would people troll other reviewers and criticize their reviews? What is there for them? What is the point? Never understood it. Love/like/don’t like/hate particular story –it’s okay. We are all entitled to our own opinions. The trolls would not sway me either way. I would always take opinion of a trusted reviewer and ignore the trolls.
And the authors who only want reviews from people who they think would give them 4-5 star ratings are fools. Personally, I would almost never pick up a story with all 5-star ratings. Been there, done that, wasted my money and time. I actually go directly to negative reviews first to understand why.


message 19: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Lyuda wrote: "Why would people troll other reviewers and criticize their reviews? What is there for them? What is the point? Never understood it. Love/like/don’t like/hate particular story –it’s okay. We are all..."

@Bubu - thanks for the vote of confidence.

@Lyuda - The only 5 star reviews I take notice of here are those by people whose opinions I know and trust or which are clearly well-considered. Then I skip to the 3 and lower to get an overall picture.


message 20: by Lyuda (new)

Lyuda Caz wrote: "Lyuda wrote: "Why would people troll other reviewers and criticize their reviews? What is there for them? What is the point? Never understood it. Love/like/don’t like/hate particular story –it’s ok..."
Yes, definitely, sound strategy. I was thinking more of new-to-me authors and with no trusted reviewers ratings :)


message 21: by Bubu (new) - added it

Bubu Trolls and fan girls /-boys are one thing. I guess with a certain age, you just shrug it off. So what?

But censorship, and asking Caz not be allowed to review her books is censorship in my opinion, is unacceptable. I have no respect for this author.


message 22: by Caz (last edited Feb 08, 2017 08:40AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Bubu wrote: "Trolls and fan girls /-boys are one thing. I guess with a certain age, you just shrug it off. So what?

But censorship, and asking Caz not be allowed to review her books is censorship in my opinion..."


Thankfully, the vast majority of authors seem able to understand that if you put something in the public domain, you must expect reactions of all sorts and you take the rough with the smooth. Some, unfortunately, have yet to locate their big-girl panties and didn't want the nasty wady to wead their widdawl bookie in case she didn't wike it :(


message 23: by Bubu (new) - added it

Bubu Some, unfortunately, have yet to locate their big-girl panties and didn't want the nasty wady to wead their widdawl bookie in case she didn't wike it :(

Lololol :) Ever thought of writing yourself? That was a good one. But yeah, you're right.

I came across a 1 or 2 star review for Tangled the other day, with the reviewer clearly stating she didn't like it. Emma Chase actually posted there and was very gracious. She said 'thanks for trying anyway'.

By the way, maybe you could still review her book as a private person, if you felt like putting the hours in. Nothing the author can do about that. I don't think I'd do it, though. My time is too precious for this kind of silly behaviour.


message 24: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz My time is too precious for this kind of silly behaviour.


Same here. And I have also encountered gracious authors, which is good, as it reminds me they're not all insecure, tantrum-prone toddlers.


Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* Caz, these comments have given me the best laugh I've had in ages!! Definitely an author to avoid with a ten foot barge pole!


message 26: by Caz (last edited Feb 08, 2017 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* wrote: "Caz, these comments have given me the best laugh I've had in ages!! Definitely an author to avoid with a ten foot barge pole!"

Yep, she really shot herself in the foot. What she SHOULD have done was sucked it up, thought 'maybe Caz won't read it if she didn't like the last one' and avoided this bad feeling. (view spoiler)


message 27: by Lady Wesley (new)

Lady Wesley I think that Melanie and Charley K. could be, shall we say, pseudonyms. Each of them joined Goodreads just before this book came out. Each lives in Tennessee. Each is unusually partial to this author and seems not to read or review much else.

Of course, an author should not be blamed for the bad behavior of her fans, but she should be named and shamed for asking AAR to bar Caz from reviewing her books in future. That's just immature and self-defeating. Her books have good average ratings on GR but the number of total ratings is small. What is one of the best ways to increase sales? Why, getting a good review at AAR, of course.

But now, that will never happen.


message 28: by Ursula (new)

Ursula Sooper Spy Skillz? LOVE it! You have a Sooper Turn-of-Phraze :)


message 29: by Caz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caz Ursula wrote: "Sooper Spy Skillz? LOVE it! You have a Sooper Turn-of-Phraze :)"

Heh - thank you :)


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