Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Highlander's Accidental Marriage by Callie Hutton

Scotland, 1817
The Duke of Manchester's sister, Lady Sarah Lacey, always abides by the rules of etiquette. Fate, however, has no such confines. On a journey to the Scottish Highlands, Lady Sarah is set upon by misfortune–leaving her without carriage or chaperone, and left to the mercy of a kind and handsome gentleman. Whom (in order to secure a room at an inn) she announces is her husband.
When she proclaims they’re married in public, Professor Braeden McKinnon can't bring himself to correct the lovely Lady Sarah. After all, her reputation would be ruined. Nor can he tell her that her proclamation is not only legally binding in Scotland, but sharing a room is considered to be an act of consummation...
Now they are bound together until death do they part–even if Sarah has no intention of becoming any man's wife.
Series:Marriage Mart Mayhem series #6 | Author: Callie Hutton| Publisher: Scandalous, an imprint of Entangled | Release Date: 11/30/2015 | Genre: Historical Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.4

What’s a Lady—who does not intend to marry—to do when she finds herself accidentally married to a wickedly smart  and handsome Highland professor.
Here’s what’s going on. All Sarah wanted to do was travel to the Scottish Highlands to visit her sister who is about to give birth. Although a string of accidents has her leaving behind her maid and journeying with a handsome Highlander who came to her aid. In order to procure a room at an overly crowded inn, Sarah tells the owner the room is for her and her husband.
The last thing Braeden McKinnon expected when he kindly helped the damsel in distress was to become accidentally married to her, yet he can’t bring himself to correct her. He also can’t seem to bring himself to tell her that they are now, in fact, married. And as Braeden grows accustomed to his accidental marriage, Sarah will do anything in her power to pretend it never happened.
I really liked Braeden—okay, so I loved Braeden. He’s super smart, sexy, kind, caring, patient, and puts up with a lot more that he should from Sarah. I definitely wouldn’t mind sharing a carriage ride with him.
Sarah, for the most part, annoyed me. I thought she came off as spoiled, bratty, and selfish. There were a few likable moments, but, blimey, most of the time I found myself wanting to shake some sense into her or just plain slap her. She was the one who got them into this accidental marriage yet she treated Braeden horribly. I did admire her determination and her goal of publishing her book but she could have handled things a bit better. It wasn’t until the end, when she finally got her crap together, that I really started liking her.
The chemistry was a bit awkward. Although Braeden still wanted to go on his expedition to Rome, you could tell he was attracted to Sarah and was growing accustom to having a wife and possibly children in the future. There were times when Sarah felt a spark for Braeden—and she was more than happy to have him in her bed—yet she kept trying to push him away and it interfered with the chemistry between them.
While I did enjoy this book as a whole, some things just felt off kilter. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the journey from hell that felt out of place—seriously, every time I go on vacation some sort of natural disaster happens, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, freak storms, so I can actually all of those events that happened on Sarah’s journey actually happening. It was the fact that the characters were so blas√© about the deaths that occurred. Sarah has this whole, ‘don’t worry about it they’re not ours’ mentality going on when the driver died. Their reactions just didn’t seem natural.
Also, I had a few problems with the way Braeden spoke. While the author was trying to maintain the Highland dialect, she was also trying to maintain an air of education with Braeden and it occasionally made his dialogue feel forced.
Another thing that rather irked me—and I find this in so many books dealing with Highlanders—is the fact the author wants to make sure they include some nod to the fact the character speaks Gaelic without actually adding in said Gaelic. So what generally happens is that you’re reading along and suddenly you come across the dreaded, ‘he murmured this in Gaelic’ or he ‘let out a string of Gaelic curses’. I mean, I don’t expect to see an entire conversation take place in Gaelic but I would like to see a bit mixed in.
Overall, this was a pleasant little read. I really enjoyed a scholarly hero. There’s a few things that could have went a bit differently. Although this book did pique my interest, and I’m itching to read the book that came before this one to discover the story of Sarah’s sister.

Okay, so let’s talk about the ‘accidental marriage’. After the Marriage Act of 1753 there were three legal and binding ways a couple could get married in Scotland without banns being read or a minister being present.
1. A couple were legally married if they declared themselves to be so in front of witnesses, regardless of whether this was followed by consummation.
2. A promise of marriage, followed by a sexual relationship, was regarded as a legal marriage – but this had to be backed up by some kind of proof, such as a written promise of marriage, or an oath sworn before witnesses.
3. Marriages 'by habit and repute' were also legal if a couple usually presented themselves in public as husband and wife, even if no formal declaration of marriage was made.
It was actually possible for Sarah to accidently marry herself to Braeden.  It’s also possible, given Sarah’s lifestyle, that while she had probably heard about Scotland’s lax marriage laws and ladies flitting away to Gretna Green, she didn’t fully understand how they worked and how easy it was to actually get married—on purpose or by accident.
In this book, it appears that 1 and 3 were mingled together to form an easier way to have an accidental marriage. It wasn’t as cut and dry as it appeared in the book. Sarah’s declaration alone wouldn’t have been enough to marry them right there on the spot. Braeden would have had to declare along with Sarah and in front of witnesses that he too was married to Sarah.
This is where #3 comes in marriage 'by habit and repute’. It was actually what we would think of as a ‘common law marriage’—in Scotland, it was known as a ‘practice marriage’—the couple would declare themselves married then live together for a certain amount of time, usually a year and a day. For the book, this process was sped up.  

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