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An Infamous Marriage [Kindle Edition]

Susanna Fraser
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he's back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife's love may be the greatest battle he's faced yet.

88,000 words



Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 461 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Carina Press (5 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0092MPO1M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #196,958 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent characterisation; a wonderful romance 5 Nov. 2012
By Caz
Format:Kindle Edition
This is easily one of the best historical romances I've read. The story of a marriage of convenience is not an unusual one in the genre, but what I really liked about this one was the fact that at least a third of the book is taken up with showing us what life is like for the protagonists after they have made a go of their marriage and admitted their love for one another. In many books, that's more or less the end of the story, but not here.

The characterisation in the novel is excellent. Jack and Elizabeth come across as real people with real flaws, and their marriage, while eventually very happy, has its ups and downs, and they regularly tease each other about their annoying habits. Jack is a soldier through-and-through, having joined the army at sixteen and spent most of his life away from England in the US and mostly, Canada. The historical detail is well-researched in the sections which describe some of the actions in which he was involved, and I especially liked the way that the author showed us exactly what it meant - to Jack - to be a military man. There's a moment in the last section of the book where he is recalled to active service where he says that at last, he feels like a whole man again; which is no reflection on his wife or his marriage, but it tells us so clearly how he defines himself. That is not to say that he is dissatisfied with the life he has with Elizabeth, and to her credit, she understands that; it's just who he is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Must Weigh In On This One 19 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I read nearly every review written on this book before I reluctantly decided to purchase it. Normally, a romance novel that includes such blatant faithlessness on the part of the husband would turn me inside out. But, I was intrigued because so many readers seemed to think Jack should have allowances made for his behavior due to the circumstances surrounding his and Elizabeth's marriage and the fact that it had not been consummated. In fact, a few days after Jack and Elizabeth wed, Jack returned to his military post in the wilds of Canada - there to live for five long years.

When all is said and done, Jack did make wedding vows and those most certainly should have been considered to be as important and honorable as the promise he made to Giles as he lay dying - that he would marry Giles' beloved wife, Elizabeth. But, apparently, Jack didn't consider the vows he made to Elizabeth in holy matrimony to have the same consequence as the vow he made to Giles. Rather he lived as he chose while he was in Canada, to the point people who knew him there were not even aware he had a wife. Back home and two years into Jack's tour in Canada, a spiteful neighbor of Elizabeth's filled her in on the less than honorable lifestyle Jack was living and Elizabeth was stunned and heartbroken. Not so much that Jack wasn't faithful but that he wasn't discreet - rather, it seemed his conduct was somewhat brazen. Elizabeth had three more years after learning about Jack's foibles - three years to stew and become a woman of determination in regard to how her marriage would play out once Jack returned home.

The good thing is that sooner or later The. Piper. Must. Be. Paid. I for one, wanted the price to be quite high - that would be the only way, my soul would be satisfied.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A FORCED MARRIAGE 19 Nov. 2012
By L. Sims TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When Jack visits his boyhood friend Giles, he is dismayed to find that Giles is dying. Elizabeth and Giles had only been married for a week when Giles fell ill, now after such a short time she is to be a widow. But Giles prevails upon his friendship with Jack to force a promise that Jack will marry Elizabeth after his death. Although both Jack and Elizabeth do not want this, faced with Giles who is dying they agree. As jack has to leave with his regiment in a mere two weeks the marriage must be hastily arranged. By the time arrives for Jack to leave Elizabeth and he are married, and Elizabeth has agreed to run his estate in his absence and care for his ailing mother.

Five years pass before Jack returns home. He now holds a more senior rank and has been knighted. Jack is somewhat reluctant to return to his estate and the woman he married. They are all but strangers, even though throughout the time he was away they kept in contact by letters. While he was away his mother had died, not that it was entirely unexpected. But Elizabeth's letters had become more formal to him around that time. One might even describe them as cold. Jack has no idea why, but he is about to find out.

Though their marriage had been forced upon them by a promise to a dying Giles, and Elizabeth knew she was no beauty to tempt Jack. She was not naive, she did not expect Jack to remain celibate. But she did expect him to be discrete. But it's seems that the word discrete was not in Jack's vocabulary. News of his amorous exploits had traveled all the way back to England. Where Elizabeth had now become the subject of gossip, and even pity. She was furious. So Jack's homecoming was not quite what he had expected.

First read for me by this author, and for the most part I really enjoyed it.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A FORCED MARRIAGE 19 Nov. 2012
By L. Sims - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
When Jack visits his boyhood friend Giles, he is dismayed to find that Giles is dying. Elizabeth and Giles had only been married for a week when Giles fell ill, now after such a short time she is to be a widow. But Giles prevails upon his friendship with Jack to force a promise that Jack will marry Elizabeth after his death. Although both Jack and Elizabeth do not want this, faced with Giles who is dying they agree. As jack has to leave with his regiment in a mere two weeks the marriage must be hastily arranged. By the time arrives for Jack to leave Elizabeth and he are married, and Elizabeth has agreed to run his estate in his absence and care for his ailing mother.

Five years pass before Jack returns home. He now holds a more senior rank and has been knighted. Jack is somewhat reluctant to return to his estate and the woman he married. They are all but strangers, even though throughout the time he was away they kept in contact by letters. While he was away his mother had died, not that it was entirely unexpected. But Elizabeth's letters had become more formal to him around that time. One might even describe them as cold. Jack has no idea why, but he is about to find out.

Though their marriage had been forced upon them by a promise to a dying Giles, and Elizabeth knew she was no beauty to tempt Jack. She was not naive, she did not expect Jack to remain celibate. But she did expect him to be discrete. But it's seems that the word discrete was not in Jack's vocabulary. News of his amorous exploits had traveled all the way back to England. Where Elizabeth had now become the subject of gossip, and even pity. She was furious. So Jack's homecoming was not quite what he had expected.

First read for me by this author, and for the most part I really enjoyed it. The story was well told. The characters were well drawn and interesting. I really liked Elizabeth, her life had not been an easy one. But she refused to be cowed and always held her head high. Jack was a little more complex he had wanderlust, and enjoyed being a soldier. It was the only life he knew and loved, after he fulfilled his promise and married Elizabeth. He just didn't feel like a married man and didnt intend to behave like one.

The only downside for me with this was that I was dubious as to Jack's sudden obsession with Elizabeth it seemed more to do with his guilt over his past behaviour, rather than a genuine love.The sex scenes were hot. And this was an all round good read. I would certainly be prepared to read more from this author.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser 17 Nov. 2012
By Tori @SmexyBooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Jack Armstrong has spent his whole life on the battlefield, but nothing prepares him for battle he will have to fight in his own home. Jack married Elizabeth for convenience, then returned to the front lines. With the marriage left unconsummated and only a handful of cold letters between them. Jack isn't sure what to expect when he returns home; but a strong, confident, angry wife wasn't it.

Elizabeth married Jack as a promise to her dying first husband. She hasn't seen Jack in five years but she has certainly heard all about him and his escapades with other women. Having been the object of pity and ridicule because of his infidelity, Elizabeth has no intention of submitting to Jack in or out of the bedroom until he can earn her forgiveness.

As Jack prepares to battle his way into Elizabeth's bed, his admiration and desire for Elizabeth
expands, until winning her heart and love is the only victory he will accept.

Marriage of convenience and infidelity aren't new tropes in romances. Historically, brides got their husband's last name and the security that came with it while the mistresses got everything else. Often a blind eye was turned as long as the husband didn't make a fool of his wife. In Suzanna Fraser's An Infamous Marriage, the husband does make a fool out of his wife. Jack Armstrong, a lieutenant in the army, hadn't planned to marry but when his best friend begged him, on his deathbed, to marry and care for his wife, Jack couldn't deny him his dying request. So Jack reluctantly gets married, though the newly widowed Elizabeth, did offer to release him from the promise many times. A week after their marriage, Jack leaves for Canada to rejoin his unit, leaving a still grieving Elizabeth alone on his estate in a small secluded town. And here the trouble begins.

Jack, our hero, isn't intentionally selfish or cruel. He is young, cocky, and seemingly has the world at his fingertips. Though a handsome man now, he wasn't as a boy, and Jack's self confidence needs the attention from the ladies. He doesn't seek to hurt Elizabeth but offers up the notion that what she doesn't know can't hurt her. Besides, they never consummated the marriage so they arent really married, at least in his mind. And no man is ever completely faithful, right? Unfortunately, gossip has a way of reaching even small secluded towns, as Jack learns when he arrives home, and Elizabeth proceeds to inform him that she knows all about his adventures. Jack finds himself in an unusual position. He's ashamed of his behavior and seeks to make amends.

I liked Elizabeth. Not heralded as a great beauty, she is nonetheless seems a nice person who has seen her fair share of grief in her life but doesn't wallow in self pity. She never made the mistake of thinking Jack was in love with her nor even that he would remain faithful...but she did expect him to treat her with respect as a person and as his wife. Already a victim of scandal as a child, hearing of his infidelities second hand made the pain and embarrassment worse. She chooses to hide herself on their estate; causing her to further blame Jack, for taking away her freedom.

Fraser does a wonderful job in addressing Jack's infidelity and how it affects his relationship and marriage with Elizabeth. There is no instant forgiveness. Jack has to earn her trust and luckily for Elizabeth, he takes that to heart. Jack courts Elizabeth, much to her condensation and delight. Watching them get to know one and fall in love was interesting as well as humorous at times. The chemistry between them starts out slow but becomes quite steamy and ribald as both are naturally sensual people who are not shy in bed.

While we are introduced to various secondary characters, they really didn't make much of an impression on me story wise. They are more background scenery than anything else, for this story focuses solely on our hero and heroine. The background of the Napoleonic wars intertwines well with the storyline. The main conflict resolves easily, though there is a small crisis that comes back to threaten Jack and undo all the advancement he and Elizabeth have made. The resolution is believable and we are left with a small epilogue to assure us of our couple's happiness.

My only problem with this book is that I was never able to connect with it beyond a singular level. Well written, it's told in a matter of fact style that lacks emotional tone. I felt as though the characters weren't as fleshed out emotionally as they could have been. No real sense of frustration, anger, hurt, pain, ect...came through. They are quite congenial to one another. I wanted to feel Elizabeth's rage and pain. I wanted Jack's despair and anger to touch me. It was only in their lovemaking scenes did I get a hint of the passionate nature these characters had.

Even with my misgivings on the tone of the book, I did enjoy the story elements and the overall development of the characters and their relationship.

Overall Rating: C+
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a strong likeable heroine dealt a tough hand. 17 Nov. 2012
By Rutile Blue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book starts with Elizabeth's love, Giles, dying after a very short marriage.
Just before Giles dies, he pressures his friend Jack to promise to marry Elizabeth
and vice versa. Jack is big on honor and he pressures Elizabeth to complete the
marriage, though she has real qualms: it is clear he does not love her. Big on honor,
Jack is quite dishonorable. Leaving Elizabeth without consumating the marriage (and
with barely a word spoken), Jack is immediately in bed with a married woman: he
mocks Elizabeth to his slutty bedmate.

Next Jack heads off to Canada. Elizabeth does not expect much
and is happy to have the security of managing Jack's estate. She doesn't expect him to
be chaste, though she is. Jack has cared enough to secure her future in his will,
but she knows he does not love her.

What she does not expect is that he will flaunt his his liaisons,
not even mentioning to friends that he is married. She expected his discretion.
Stories get back to England and Elizabeth now lives with the shame as she is
pitied by her neighbors (fairly openly, and not in a nice way).

Jack returns and gradually realized how awful he has been and that he
is attracted to Elizabeth. Eventually Jack and Elizabeth fall in love,
she forgives him, but insists he tell her who he slept with so she is
not embarassed again (mild word for what she went through). Jack tells
almost all the truth, but is too embarassed to tell of the adulterous
affair he had right after the marriage.

Well as you might guess this comes out. The husband, who was cuckolded,
shows his dead wife's diary to Elizabeth--with the date right after the
marriage and all the nasty descriptions of Elizabeth by Jack. Hard words
follow between Jack and Elizabeth before a military battle,
Jack is wounded, ... Of course, everything works out.

The story is well told and the characters come alive. I have a weakness
for stories, where the heroine has been dealt a crushing hand, but she
grows stronger and more clear-minded as a consequence; and where the hero
grows to deserve the heroine.

This is a book I will reread.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Nice Historical Read That Resonates With Today's Readers 13 Nov. 2012
By Mary L. Valley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you want a regency book that feels authentic, but one you can relate to, this is your book. The main point of this book is not heart-stopping suspense or action, or even exciting sex scenes (although these do develop as the plot grows), but it is the characters and how they cope and develop from being thrown together in a reluctant (and in the groom's case, resentful) marriage of convenience which is stressed by the necessity of the hero immediately returning to his military post, leaving his marriage unconsummated, and his new wife mourning the death of her first husband (and love) while caring for the H's estate and ailing mother.

The character development and dialogue are very enjoyable and flow naturally and logically. Since the emphasis in not on action, the pace is a little slower than usually seen but it kept me turning pages. The character's attitudes are pretty accurate for the period, but close enough to today to have you cheering for them.

without wanting to spoil too much, there is the issue of infidelity and the necessity for the H to seek forgiveness which is a hot button issue for some readers. For those who like a non-sexual romance, there are sex scenes in the latter part of the book as the H/h repair and celebrate their marriage.

This was an excellent book and I was glad when the protagonists found their HEA. I highly recommend it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Infamous Marriage is very "Carla Kellyesqe" 4 Jun. 2013
By Lady Wesley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Five++ Stars!

I am a big fan of Carla Kelly's historical romances, so I can pay Susanna Fraser no higher compliment than to say that An Infamous Marriage is very Carla Kellyesqe. The plot, the pacing, and the characterization are all excellent. The story of how this marriage of convenience becomes a love match is deep and moving.

Actually, the plot is rather simple. Around 1810 newly knighted Major General Sir John (Jack) Armstrong returns to his family home in Yorkshire after years with the Army in Canada. He finds that his widowed mother has lost her mind and that his lifelong best friend, Giles, is dying. Giles persuades Jack to promise that he will marry Giles's soon-to-be widow, Elizabeth. Neither Jack nor Elizabeth is happy about this, but Jack is determined to keep his word and Elizabeth is a penniless, friendless widow with no options, so two days after Giles's funeral, off to Scotland they go. There is a need for speed because Jack has only a couple of weeks leave before he must return to Canada. By mutual agreement, he leaves with their marriage unconsummated.

Jack spends the next five years in Canada while Elizabeth nurses his mother and runs their horse-breeding farm. They write one another faithfully once a month and in that manner come to know, and indeed like, one another. Elizabeth grows from being a somewhat timid miss into a competent and confident woman. After a couple of years, however, gossip from Canada makes its way back to Elizabeth, and to everyone in her village. Jack has been indiscreetly carrying on with several other women, at least one of them married. Elizabeth is humiliated and virtually withdraws from local society. And then, Jack comes home.

Elizabeth immediately confronts him - a great scene, by the way - and informs him that she very likely wants a separation. The largest part of the book is the story of their eventual, sometimes uneasy, reconciliation. They argue; they hurt one another; they enjoy physical passion. This happens a little too fast for my taste, but the author shows a very realistic progress from a marriage of convenience to a partnership based on mutual respect and love.

Then, Napoleon escapes from Elba, and Jack is recalled to the army. Elizabeth is terrified and doesn't want him to go, but Jack feels a strong sense of duty and something else: his entire self is wrapped up in being a soldier, and he tells Elizabeth that he finally feels whole again. Elizabeth accompanies Jack to Belgium, where she learns of a secret that Jack had been keeping from her. Yes, it's that darn old secret-keeping, which really I could have done without.

This review doesn't really show you what a beautiful, finely-crafted, moving story this is. So I'll just have to tell you: this is a beautiful, finely-crafted, moving story. You should read it.

I am bewildered by the number of negative reviews of this book that are based almost entirely upon the Jack's infidelity. Yes, during the five years that he lives 3,000 miles away from the wife he doesn't love - doesn't really even know - and didn't want, he cheats. That is what makes this story of his profound regret and grateful redemption - and Elizabeth's reluctant forgiveness -- so poignant. That is what makes this truly a love story. As one anti-cheating reviewer wrote, "I don't like infidelity in a romance, but if it has to be there, then this is how it should be done."

Read this book.
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