Lord John Hammond is the Tiger Woods of the early nineteenth century. Locked out of his marriage bed just a few months after the wedding, he finds solace by keeping mistress after mistress – five in all, during the years of separation from his wife. But the unexpected death of a close relative brings Hammond back to his vows.  It’s imperative that he begets an heir.

Is it possible to even like a man like this, let alone sleep with one? Viola Hammond is sister to a duke and has spent the last eight years making a life of her own – a life as far away from her philandering husband as possible. But when Hammond corners her at a ball and announces his revised plan for their sham of a marriage, Viola is outraged. She was once young, foolish and totally in love with her husband, but her heart was irrevocably broken. John lied to her, professing a love that didn’t exist. He kept a mistress up until the time of their marriage and married her solely because he was on the brink of bankruptcy. Live with him again? Forget the past? Forgive him? NEVER.

I must confess it IS difficult to tolerate Lord Hammond. Despite his handsome face, lovely physique, enormous wealth and evident charm, I remained as wary, skeptical and cynical as Viola.  While John tries hard to win his wife back, I questioned his methods and distrusted his words right along with her. As always, though, there are two sides to every story and Viola herself is not without fault.

Be warned: this is not a restful read. Unlike the typical historical romance where we watch two people slowly and tantalizingly fall in love, The Marriage Bed is a study in how a relationship falls apart.   Ms. Guhrke takes the reader on an emotional and complex journey while her main protagonists work through their various problems.  The process is, at times, painful to observe, but we are also provided with ample opportunity to cheer on John and Viola as they come to terms with their past, work on the present and look forward to the future.

Ms. Guhke is very high on my list of favorite authors, so while I have your attention, I would also like to recommend Guilty Pleasures and And Then He Kissed Her.  Go forth and purchase. All three novels are well worth the investment

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