Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Runaway Countess - Amanda McCabe (HH #1154 - Sept 2013)

Series: Bancrofts of Barton Park (Book 1)

Wed to wickedness

In Society's eyes, Hayden Fitzwalter, Earl of Ramsay and Jane Bancroft have the perfect marriage. But what can't be seen are the secrets hidden behind closed doors. Believing Hayden will never renounce his dissolute ways, Jane flees to her family's dilapidated estate in the country.

Years later, Hayden now longs to win back the only woman who has ever touched his heart. But first he has to convince her that this rogue is ready to be tamed…. 

Pretty good book.  Hayden and Jane had married very young.  Once they were in London they got caught up in London society and the problems started.  After awhile they grew apart and Jane became more and more unhappy.  Unable to get Hayden to listen to her concerns she packed up and moved to her childhood home.  Three years later Jane has written to Hayden, offering him a divorce if he wants one, so that he can move on with his life.  He realizes that all he wants is Jane back and decides to convince her.

Jane had fallen hard for Hayden when she first met him.  He was young and handsome and fun.  Even after they married everything was great, until they returned to London after their honeymoon.  Then Jane realized that she was a countess and there were things that were expected of her, things she had no idea of how to do.  She had grown up in the country and had no experience with this kind of lifestyle and she felt completely overwhelmed.  And once they were back, Hayden was rarely with her, even when they attended things together.  When she became pregnant and miscarried three times the gulf between them got even worse, with Jane feeling like a failure.  Finally she told him that she needed to get away for awhile and returned to her childhood home.  Three years later, having had no contact with him at all, she wrote to him offering a divorce so he could remarry and get an heir.  She didn't expect him to show up at her home a few days later, to let her know there would be no divorce.  She realizes that her attraction to him is still there and that she never stopped loving him.  She also doesn't want to risk getting caught up in that life again.  She doesn't trust that he won't disappear and go back to being the same old Hayden.  But the longer he stays the more he becomes like the man she fell in love with.  I realize that she has a great deal of trouble trusting him again, but I thought she spent a bit too much time remembering the way he had been and not enough time looking at the ways he had changed.  I did like the fact that she had had the strength of will to get out of the bad situation to start with, but I thought she could have been a little more open to seeing the possibilities.  I thought for sure she was going to fade back into the background when his friends showed up unexpectedly, and was thrilled when she finally showed the backbone she had developed over the last three years.  It took a near disaster for her to realize that not all of the fault had been his.

Hayden had been drawn to Jane the first time he saw her.  He was accustomed to getting pretty much anything he wanted and he pursued her as hard as he could.  Being with her made him feel things he had never felt before.  His parents had been quite cold to him, with his father having unrealistic expectations and his mother being a party animal.  He had never been exposed to what a loving marriage was like.  While it was just the two of them everything was fine, but when they returned to London he ended up caving in to peer pressure.  He could see that things were going badly but he had no idea how to fix it.  He was devastated when she left, but not knowing what to do he simply buried himself in activity.  When he got Jane's letter he got angry that she would ask for a divorce and rode off to see her.  After getting tossed from his horse in a storm and getting hurt, he had to stay with Jane until he was healed.  This gave him the opportunity to try to convince her to come back to him.  He realized immediately that she was much happier now that she had been before she left him.  He was confused as to why since he had only wanted to make her happy before and had given her everything he thought she might like.  It took a hard look at what she had in her life now for him to realize that she had never been interested in the things he could give her, that she had wanted him.  Now he had to try to show her that he could change.  He was doing very well until his friends showed up, and then he started to backslide.  Fortunately he had begun to see what he was doing but it was almost too late.  He did come through when Jane's sister needed him.  My biggest problem with Hayden was how much time he spent beating himself up about how he had treated Jane.  It seemed like every single chapter had some variant on that theme.  I was glad they both realized they had been at fault and had matured enough to know that they had to work at it to make their marriage work.

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