Deborah Hale starts off her new trilogy “Gentleman of Fortune” about three English gentleman who have spent the last years making their fortunes in the East Indies, but now it's time to come home. First up is Married: The Virgin Widow.
Ford Barrett left England with a broken heart and piles of debt. Prior to leaving he had never known a day of work his entire life. After seven years of back-breaking work he has succeeded in creating a thriving import business. Now he wants to repay Laura for all the years of heartache she gave him.
Laura Penrose lost her father and her fiancé all in one fail swoop. When she was running out of options, Ford's cousin came along and offered her and her family support, if she would marry him. Her marriage was a brutal one, but she endured for her family's sake. Now she has been a widow for two years and lives in fear of the day Ford will come home and kick them out.
Ford and Laura have a lot of secrets and hidden history to get through before they can make a relationship work. Both have spent years absolutely sure that the other betrayed them in their time of need. Neither, of course knows the true story.
From the very beginning of the book, I knew what secrets each had from the other. But each reveal was painstakingly pulled out, with no trust or respect being given to either party until the very end. Beyond that, their reactions to the information were always overblown, which made for a very dramatic book. Where a simple sentence could have been used, there were two to three superfluous adjectives thrown in to make every thought, emotion and wish bigger than it was. For a quick example, when someone would come to visit, the butler would announce to Laura who was there and what room they were in. Instead of Laura just going, there was a page of internal dialogue about what she was hiding from the person or how she was going to react to the person's presence. It got to be very tiring.
From the beginning of the book to the very end of the book, I kept thinking that I would really like it, and I almost did. The characters were interesting, but just too dramatic. The storyline was solid, but with just too much forced conflict. I guess I wanted more, but less. For those that enjoy more dramatic elements to their stories this will be a good read.