I almost never yearn for some snob to tell me that romances are trash, and if any did, I always cite Carla Kelly's books as proof beyond dispute that they are not, but "Marrying the Royal Marine" proves the point beyond doubt. It is interesting (constantly), funny (occasionally), touching, (repeatedly), and suspenseful (regularly).
There are books I read because they make me laugh. And then there are the good yarns. Some, I fall in love with the characters, usually the men. If I'm lucky, I learn something. With Carla Kelly's book, I receive all four experiences, plus, I become a better person.
I love her heroes: they are truly honorable men, making and acting upon the hard choices, often when they don't want to, except they NEVER hesitate, NEVER even consider "staying in bed." I never doubt, when they have given their hearts away, that they will remain faithful and loving to the end of their lives. For once, the heroines equal the heroes' characters, minds, spirits, and souls. Although young, they have great common sense. This seems like a limp compliment, but it isn't. Common sense, like truth, wears well. Contrary to its name, it is uncommon. Although young and often naive, Kelly's heroines clearly see themselves (especially their liabilities and faults), their obligations and choices, and respond with unfailing integrity and courage. But it's her humanity and truthfulness in those books that make us better people when we read them. Carla Kelly repeatedly shows people who have been tested, and sometimes bested by life. In her novels, life is hard, but because (to judge by her books), she is an optimist, people rise to fight selfishness, loneliness, malice, pain, and violence. They triumph by doing what is right, what is honorable, sensible, and loving. Amazingly, she does so by creating people we love, people of substance, in plots that keep us reading.
If you want a book that gives you a glimpse of the horrors of war (without being sadistic in doing so), creates a couple that you love more and more as the book goes on, a book that is unique, one you won't forget for a long time, go buy "Marrying the Marine."