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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2003
As I enjoy Stephanies books and eagerly await the latest ones It was a great disapointment to find that A Season for Marriage is not only a reprint of Rogues Reform. and it adds insult to injury by having only two of the origional three stories The Reasons for Marriage and A Lady of Expectations. leaving out the third An Unwilling Conquest All are worth reading so if you havn't got them already try to find Rogues Reform and if you have don't waste money on this copy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2004
I'm a big fan of Stephanie Laurens, having read most of her books -- Cynster and non-Cynster series. I came across these two short stories -- the Reasons for Marriage and A Lady of Expectations by chance and I'm so happy that I did. Those who are quite familiar with the current writing style of SL -- a sensual and erotic love scenes might find these two stories boring. But to me, I would say that even if there are no explicit/graphic love scenes (which have recently become SL's trademark), this book is such a pleasant read.
The Reasons for Marriage is about Jason, an arrogant and determined Duke of Evesleigh and Lenore Lester, a beautiful but sort of wanting to hide her beauty in order to stay clear from possible suitors and matrimony. They met at Lester Hall where Lenore played the hostess of the country gathering at her estate. Jason seemed to be the only one who saw beyond Lenore's disguise as a nerd-unattractive wench (of course, he's the hero and the heros, in general, always have the sixth sense :) Jason had convinced from the start that Lenore was the most suitable choice to make the Duchess of Evesleigh, so he quite determined to court her throughout the gathering. Despite Lenore's resistance, Jason was somehow successful in bringing her to the altar. And the second half of the story focused on their misunderstandings about each other's feelings. Some would feel irritated by their 'illogical' misunderstandings, but that were some good heart-wrenching scenes where you could find yourself crying for both of them.
The second story, A Lady of Expectations, is about Lenore's elder brother--Jack Lester. After Lenore's getting married and left the Lester Hall, Jack found it necessary to find someone to assume Lenore's duty. He was kind of wanting to hide his real (robust) financial status to the ton, exactly the same way as Lennore wanted to hide her beauty (was there any psychological problems with these siblings that they felt the urge to hide their true selves from others? I couldn't tell :). Jack entered the London season letting most of the members of the ton believe that the Lesters are in a dire state of financial disaster and that he had to find a well-endowed chick to help him maintain his estates. Sophie, the heroine, who was not a rich member of the ton but was the one Jack set his eyes on, after their courtings, later realised that she couldn't married him because she was not rich enough (how sad!!). This story is real good because the readers see the process of how Jack and Sophie fell for each other, and especially how Sophie had to struggle with her feeling to ignore Jack despite her love and the way Jack tried to understand what went wrong with Sophie. The inexplicit seductions were real romantic and I think they were a lot better than SL's vivid sex scenes in her recent works.
Anyway, I don't give it a 5-star rating because I was deadly bored with the first few chapters of both stories. SL took so much time to get to the point and have the stories started!! But after the first few 'boring' chapters, you'll be hooked with the stories. FYI, I think Jason and Lennore are the prototypes of Devil and Honoria in Devil's Bride. And I also think that Jack can be thought of as a replica of Vane/Lucifer in Rake's Vow and All About Love.
In sum, if you're SL fan, read these two stories for a change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 November 2010
At the outset of her writing career, Stephanie Laurens wrote a trilogy of novels about the three Lester siblings, Lenore, Jack, and Harry.

The three books have been published individually as The Reasons for Marriage (Lenore), A Lady of Expectations (Jack), and An Unwilling Conquest (Harry). The whole trilogy has also been published in one volume as Rogues' Reform: The Reasons for Marriage, a Lady of Expectations, an Unwilling Conquest.

For some reason Mills & Boon have also brought out this book which contains just the first two novels in the trilogy.

One of the supporting characters in these novels, particularly "An Unwilling Conquest" is Lord Philip Ruthven, and Miss Laurens subsequently wrote a romance for him, entitled A Comfortable Wife. In this story, Lord Philip runs into a young lady who is determined to prove that she would make him a comfortable wife in the belief that this is what he wants. Fortunately for them both, in this belief she is entirely mistaken ...

These books were written well before the Cynster, Bastion Club, and Black Cobra books. One consequence of this is that the Lester novels are much closer in form to the traditional regency romance story and do not have as much in the way of detailed description of lovemaking between the hero and heroine as most of Stephanie Lauren's more recent books.

Nor had Miss Laurens yet developed the plot which she has re-used with minor variations in 80% of her recent books. The standard Laurens plot goes as follows:

Noble rake meets intelligent spinster or widow in her late twenties, decides immediately that she is the woman he wants to marry, and that the best way to persuade her is to seduce her and thoroughly ravish her every twenty pages for the rest of the book. Unfortunately, because he doesn't have the sense to say certain important words, and she is only prepared to marry for love, she refuses to marry him until the villain tries to murder one of both of them and in the process of frustrating the villain both discover and reveal their true feelings.

Neither of the novels which make up this volume conform to that stereotype, although both of them contain strong hints from which you can see how Miss Laurens developed it.

The first book, "The reasons for marriage" begins with the Duke of Eversleigh contemplating the fact that his brother's death means that he will have to marry to secure the future of the Dukedom. Having seduced a great many other men's wives, he is determined to find a woman who will be faithful to him, and absolutely does not want to marry some hen-witted teenage deb. Having decided that he wants to marry an intelligent lady of the ton with impeccable morals, experience of running a household, and whose company he has not already decided he cannot stand, he has very few candidates to choose from. In fact there appears to be only one candidate who fits the bill: Lady Lenore Lester, who is a virtual recluse who keeps house for her father and brothers.

Lenore Lester has long abandoned any thought of marriage and become adept at avoiding the attentions, not always honorable, of her brother's and father's guests at Lester Hall. It comes as rather a shock when no less a personage than a duke sees through her deliberately frumpish appearance and begins courting her. But are his reasons for marriage the ones she would share?

The second novel, "A Lady of Expectations" tells the story of Lenore's oldest brother Jack, who like the Duke of Eversleigh and a great many Stephanie Laurens heroes in subsequent books needs to marry to secure an heir.

The ton thinks that the Lester family are still in straightened financial circumstances: Jack is deliberately keeping quiet the fact that there has been a turnaround in their financial fortunes because he does not want to be besieged by debutantes and their mothers. It had not occurred to him that the woman he wants might have unselfish reasons for refusing to marry him if she too believes him to be in straightened circumstances ...

The reasons given for the turnround in the Lester fortunes in both books are rather anachronistic: it is based on the success of an investment in shipping, and the ton, as high society was named, looked down on those whose income came from "trade" e.g. anything other than owning land. A noble family like the Lesters would generally be ashamed to own wealth which came from shipping. Having said that, it is true that when even the most haughty families were desperately short of cash they were known to bend those scruples.

Overall this is a reasonably entertaining pair of novels. But if you are thinking of reading these stories you would probably do better to get "Rogues Reform" which has the full trilogy rather than this one. If you do enjoy the Lester novels, you will certainly emjoy "A comfortable wife" which is the most entertaining of the four.

Incidentally there is another Lester sibling, Gerald the youngest, who in "An unwilling conquest" appeared to be romantically interested in the stepdaughter of that book's heroine. However, he had not got round to proposing to her by the end of the book. So at some stage we may get a fifth book in this mini-series featuring Gerald and either Miss Babbacombe or some other lady.
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