‘Return of the Viscount’ by Gayle Callen

ROTV GCSTORY: Her marriage of convenience seems far too convenient . . .

Desperation drove Cecilia Mallory to seek a union with a stranger—one who would wed her sight unseen and grant her full access to her inheritance with no expectations whatsoever. She anticipated, perhaps, an older, undesirable, equally desperate husband—never the young, vibrant, and devastatingly attractive man who answered her call. What could such a man really be after?

Unknown to Cecilia, Viscount Michael Blackthorne, a soldier and gentleman, owes a debt of honor to Lady Cecilia’s father, and granting her unusual request to wed seemed a worthy way to repay it. But an unseen threat perilously close at hand is convincing Michael that his true responsibility is to protect the beautiful, warm-hearted lady he has married . . . the woman he is unexpectedly coming to love.

REVIEW: As book blurbs go, the above one is just perfect in setting up this story of redemption, respect and love.

Ms. Callen gave a wonderful characterization of two very strong people who knew what they wanted out of life very early on in their lives. Both had carried much of the baggage passed on to them from their respective parents and were determined never to repeat the mistakes their parents made, and in doing so made sure to stay away from situations that would have them marry.

At eighteen, Lord Michael Blackthorne enlisted in the army and was shipped out to India because his father had insisted he marry for the wrong reasons. Going against the wishes of the man he had no respect for, young Michael vowed to advance himself not by purchasing his commission but by hard work and sheer determination to prove to his family that he is a man of honor. While there he meets our heroine’s father who takes him under his wing and teaches him to become that man.

Cecilia Mallory had a good childhood even though it was visited with some tragedy that had profoundly altered the course of her life. As a very impressionable girl, she was forced by her mother to do some things that made her uncomfortable and in some way that contributed to her decision not to marry, even though as she grows into a woman, her beauty and dowry are very much sought after. After the death of her father in India, she decides to reach out to her father’s protégé and friend, Lieutenant Michael Blackthorne in hopes that he would be able to ease the pain of her loss.

As the two become ‘pan-palls’ if you will, they come to respect and understand each other well enough for Cecilia to feel comfortable in proposing to Michael a marriage by proxy and in name only for the reasons of obtaining her financial freedom from her guardian. Michael knows in his heart that he owes a debt to her father and he agrees to her proposal out of that duty. Neither is aware of Lady Destiny’s plan for them both.

This was such an easy read and I credit that to a very interesting plot, involving some mystery of who is willing to risk everything by ending Cecilia’s life. The mark of a good plot is when the reader decides she [that’s me] knows who the villain is, than second guesses it through the end of the story.

Then there are some secondary characters, such as heroine’s brother Oliver and friend Penelope that made me want to shake them all into tomorrow!  

If you’re Gayle Callen fan, this is no brainer  and you’ll no doubt get this book, [believe it or not, this is one author that now I have every book she's written, but have yet to read some of her earlier series] which by the way is the first in her new trilogy, The Brides Redemption which is about “What happens when three soldiers who need to be redeemed meet three women who need to marry?” I’m looking forward to reading the second book Surrender to The Earlwhich will be out in June 2013. If you’ve never read this author, I’d say you’re missing on some well written, well thought out and well plotted stories which accompanied with a bit of action,  witty dialogue and great characterization, make up for wonderful and easy read.

*Book provided by AVON through EDELWEISS.