Review – Unwed and Unrepentant (Armstrong Sisters #5) by Marguerite Kaye

Unwed and Unrepentant cover image

Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

London, 1837

Burned by love, and fearful of being trapped by marriage, headstrong Lady Cordelia Armstrong is furious when her father manipulates her into a betrothal with his business partner and her one-time lover Iain Hunter.

Understanding Cordelia’s reluctance, Iain proposes a pretend engagement. For now they will make believe – but there is no need to fake the attraction that still burns hotly between them. As they travel to magical Arabia the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Will either of them really be able to walk away once their deal is done?
This blurb came from the author’s website.

This is the second of Kaye’s Armstrong Sisters series that I have read. I wasn’t exactly sympathetic towards the heroine in Rumors that Ruined a Lady but despite my personal struggles with that story I still find Kaye’s writing compelling. As a result, when I saw that she had a new story coming out I had to request it. One of the things I discovered when I finished was I probably should have listened to my OCD and started this series from the beginning instead of joining in the middle.

I really enjoyed Iain. He was a great representation of a man who clawed his way up from not much to someone impressive. Along the way, he learned some unfortunate lessons about people, emotional weakness, and the price of caring about someone else. Surprisingly, he also learned how to read people while remaining emotionally detached. I enjoyed watching him recognize some familiar signs in Cordelia and try to convince her to trust him while under the impression he was only interested in her physically and as a way to thwart her father.

Cordelia was a challenging character to like. I waffled between sympathy and wanting to shake her in frustration. I really felt for her and her sisters as I saw her father in action. He really was a despicable man. While Cordelia had made decisions in the past thinking she was doing what she needed to do for herself and that she would never regret her actions a part of her always feared rejection. As a result of her fears every time she started to show a hint of weakness or a piece of her inner self she would do something to try and deflect sympathy or self sabotage what she could have.

I did enjoy watching both Cordelia and Iain start to trust each other with their past and start to hope for the future. Iain continually proved through his actions that his word was his bond. Even when he was mad or hurt by Cordelia’s actions he never went back on what he promised. Cordelia for her part, realized she treasured what she had with Iain and wanted to keep it even though she did not know how to demonstrate or express her feelings. I thought the way both Cordelia and Iain had to grow and decide if they were going to take a chance really made this story. It kept them balanced and allowed me to believe in the success of their HEA.

Kaye has an interesting knack of picking circumstances and characters that are just a bit off from the usual. I find myself fascinated by them and how they go about either solving various problems or living according to the beat of a different drum. One of the other things Kaye does is show the cost of being different and yet when that cost is balanced against losing self and happiness the choice is evident. I thought that when Iain and Cordelia finally worked their way through years of shields and residual emotional hurt each still had to make a choice. I loved seeing how they faced what could be and then made their choice.

I give Unwed and Unrepentant a B

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