Not Quite a Husband [NOOK Book]

Overview

Sherry Thomas is one of the hottest new voices in historical romance, garnering the highest praise from today’s bestselling writers (“Entrancing.” —Mary Balogh; “Ravishingly sinful, intelligent and addictive.” —Eloisa James). Now Sherry delivers this powerful story of a remarkable woman and the love she thought she’d never find—with the man she thought she’d lost forever.…

Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon—to no ...
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Not Quite a Husband

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Overview

Sherry Thomas is one of the hottest new voices in historical romance, garnering the highest praise from today’s bestselling writers (“Entrancing.” —Mary Balogh; “Ravishingly sinful, intelligent and addictive.” —Eloisa James). Now Sherry delivers this powerful story of a remarkable woman and the love she thought she’d never find—with the man she thought she’d lost forever.…

Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon—to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn't possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?

Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister—and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them—or their rekindling passion?

From the Paperback edition.

2010 RITA Winner for Best Historical Romance

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

When her brief, disastrous marriage to mathematician and overall Renaissance man Quentin Leonidas Marsden falls apart, Dr. Bryony Asquith reads the signs, gets an annulment, and takes her considerable medical skills to Germany, America, and, finally, the Rumbur Valley on the Indian frontier. Several years later, learning that Bryony's father is ill, Leo comes to ferry her back to England, and their tortuous trek home provides just what they need to reclaim the love they thought had been lost forever. VERDICT Thomas (Delicious), who has made a name for herself with her exquisite use of language, deftly switches between past and present in this lyrically written, emotionally captivating story graced by beautifully developed, realistically flawed characters, clear motivation, and descriptions that make late Victorian India spring to life. Thomas lives in Austin, TX.


—Kristin Ramsdell
From the Publisher
~ WINNER of the 2010 RITA Award for Best Historical Romance

~ Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Nominee for Best Innovative Historical Romance

“Sherry Thomas is the most powerfully original historical romance author writing today.” —Lisa Kleypas

“Thomas’ latest exquisitely crafted historical...is another beguiling mix of complex characters and realistically complicated romance.”—Chicago Tribune

“Thomas has quickly become a fan favorite thanks to her wonderful storytelling and her unique ability to get into her characters' minds and our hearts...Add diverse plotlines, engaging characters, depth of emotion and a sweeping romance -- what more could you desire?”—Romantic Times, 4 ½ stars
 
“Rich and evocative...In mentioning new historical authors to be excited about, [Sherry Thomas’s] name should always mentioned.”—Jane Litte, DearAuthor.com
 
“[Sherry Thomas’s] books have vaulted to the top of my “most anticipated” list...[Her] prose and storytelling are reminiscient of Laura Kinsale (in my eyes, there is hardly a higher compliment). In Not Quite a Husband I found echoes of the best of Mary Balogh, as well. Grade: A.”—Jennie, DearAuthor.com
 
“Both of these bright and complex characters will captivate...Sensuous scenes and brief touches of wit are scattered throughout a suspenseful plot. Sherry Thomas's debut novel, PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, and the following DELICIOUS were highly praised; NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is guaranteed to be as well.”—Romance Reviews Today
 
“I really enjoyed Ms. Thomas' writing. I have her previous books in the TBR pile and have every intention of cracking them open as soon as I can.”—The Good, The Bad, The Unread
 
“Sherry Thomas writes in a beautifully evocative, luscious style that had me return to several passages to savor them once more…Not Quite a Husband has everything I want from a romance…Delightful but flawed characters I love and can identify with, luscious prose, an interesting setting, and a romance that touches my heart. I can't recommend it enough, and am looking forward very much to Sherry Thomas's next book. Grade: A.”—All About Romance
 
“Thomas, who has made a name for herself with her exquisite use of language, deftly switches between past and present in this lyrically written, emotionally captivating story graced by beautifully developed, realistically flawed characters, clear motivation, and descriptions that make late Victorian India spring to life.”—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553906318
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/19/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 28,610
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Sherry Thomas burst onto the romance scene with Private Arrangements, one of the most anticipated debut historical romances in recent history and a Publishers Weekly Best of the Year book. Lisa Kleypas calls her “the most powerfully original historical romance author working today.” Her books have received stellar reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Romantic Times, along with enthusiastic praises from many of the most highly trafficked romance review websites and blogs.

Her story is all the more interesting given that English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys creating stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

From the Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
**


Rumbur Valley
Chitral Agency
North-West Frontier of India
Summer 1897

In the bright afternoon sun, the white streak was a gash of barrenness against the deep rich black of her hair. It started at the edge of her forehead, just to the right of center, swept straight down the back of her head, and twisted through her chignon in a striking—and eerie—arabesque.

It invoked an odd reaction in him. Not pity; he would no more pity her than he would pity the lone Himalayan wolf. And not affection; she'd put an end to that with her frigidity, in heart and body. An echo of some sort then, memories of old hopes from more innocent days.

In a white shirtwaist and a dark blue skirt, she sat between two fishing rods set ten feet apart, a bucket by her side, a twig in her hand, tracing random patterns in the swift-flowing, aquamarine water.

Across the stream, fields glinted a thick, bright gold in the narrow alluvial plain—winter wheat ready for harvest. Small, rectangular houses of wood and stacked stone piled one on top of another along the rising slope, like a collection of weathered playing blocks. Beyond the village, the ground elevated more rapidly, a brief stratum of walnut and apricot trees before the bones of the hills revealed themselves, austere crags that supported only dots of shrubs and an intrepid deodar or two.

"Bryony," he said. His head hurt, but he must speak to her.

She went still. The twig washed downstream, caught in a rock, then spun and floated free again. Still facing the stream, she wrapped her arms about her knees. "Mr. Marsden, how unexpected. What brings you to this part of the world?"

"Your father is ill. Your sister sent several cables to Leh, and when she received no response from you, she asked me to find you."

"What's the matter with my father?"

"I don't know the specifics. Callista only said that the doctors are not hopeful and that he wishes to see you."

She rose and turned around at last.

At first glance, her face gave the impression of great tranquillity and sweetness. Then one noticed the bleakness behind her green eyes, as if she were a nun on the verge of losing her faith. When she spoke, however, all illusions of meek melancholy fled, for she had the most leave-me-be voice he'd ever heard, not strident but stridently self-sufficient, and little concerned with anything that did not involve diseased flesh.

But she was silent this moment and reminded him of a churchyard stone angel that watched over the departed with a gentle, steady compassion.

"You believe Callista?" she asked, destroying the semblance.

"I shouldn't?"

"Unless you were dying in the autumn of ninety-five."

"I beg your pardon?"

"She claimed you were. She said you were somewhere in the wastes of America, dying, and desperately wanted to see me one last time."

"I see," he said. "Does she make a habit of it?"

"Are you engaged to be married?"

"No." Though he should be. He knew a number of beautiful, affectionate young women, any one of whom would make him a suitable spouse.

"According to her you are. And would gladly jilt the poor girl if I but give the command." She did not look at him as she said this last, her eyes on the ground. "I'm sorry that she dragged you into her schemes. And I'm much obliged to you for coming out this far—"

"But you'd rather I turned around and went back right away?"

Silence. "No, of course not. You'll need to rest and reprovision."

"And if I didn't need to rest or reprovision?"

She did not answer, but turned away from him. Then she bent down, retrieved a fishing rod, and reeled in something that was struggling to escape.

Weeks upon weeks of trekking across some of the most inhospitable terrains on Earth, sleeping on cold, hard ground, eating what he could shoot and the occasional handful of wild berries so he wouldn't be weighed down by a train of coolies carrying the usual necessities deemed indispensable for a sahib's travels—and this was her response.

One should never expect anything else from her.

"Even the boy who cried wolf was right about the wolf once," he said. "Your father is sixty-three years old. Is it so unlikely for a man of his age to ail?"

With a deft turn of her wrist, she unhooked the fish and dropped it into the bucket. "It is a six-week journey to England, on the off chance that Callista might be telling the truth."

"And if she is, you will regret not having gone."

"I'm not so certain about that."

Her ambivalence toward most of Creation had once fascinated him. He'd thought her complicated and extraordinary. But no, she was merely cold and unfeeling.

"The journey need not take six weeks," he said. "It can be done in four."

She looked back at him, her expression unyielding. "No, thank you."

It was 370 miles from Gilgit, where he'd been peacefully minding his own business, to Leh, that much again back to Gilgit, then 220 miles from Gilgit to Chitral. For most of the way he'd done three marches a day, sometimes four. He'd lost a full stone in weight. And he hadn't been this tired since Greenland.

Fuck you.

"Very well then." He bowed slightly. "I bid you a good day, madam."

*

"Wait," she said—and hesitated.

He turned around halfway.

When she'd fallen in love with him, he'd been that magical man-child, with the beauty of a dark-haired Adonis and the playfulness of a young Dionysus. She couldn't think of anyone else who'd have gotten away with that song about a cold-blooded duchess and her very hot teapot, which had a three-inch spout that could nevertheless "fill all the right cups, be they shallow or deep, and then to patiently, lovingly steep."

Toward the end of their marriage, he'd already lost some of that deceptively cherubic sweetness to his looks. Now his profile had become angular and precipitous, like the bleak heights that concealed the Kalash Valleys.

"Are you leaving now?" she asked. She was conflicted about it, but it would be churlish to not at least offer him tea.

"No. I have promised to take tea with your friends, Mr. and Mrs. Braeburn."

"You met them already?"

"They were the ones who directed me to you," he answered, his tone matter-of-fact, but with an edge of impatience.

Suddenly she was alarmed. "And what did you tell them about us?"

Surely he would not have given the Braeburns an account of their short, infelicitous history.

"I didn't tell them anything. I showed them a photograph of you and asked if I might be able to find you here."

She blinked. He had a photograph of her? "What photograph?"

He reached inside his jacket, pulled out a squarish envelope, and held it out toward her. Beyond weariness, his expression gave away nothing. After a moment of wavering she wiped her hands with a handkerchief, walked to him, and took the envelope from his hand.

She opened the unsealed flap of the envelope and pulled out the photograph. Her retinas immediately burned. It was her wedding photograph. Their wedding photograph.

"Where did you get this?"

He'd moved out of their house in Belgravia the day after she'd asked for an annulment, leaving behind his copy of their wedding photograph on his nightstand, which she'd fed to the grate along with her copy.

"Charlie gave it to me when I passed through Delhi." Charles Marsden was Leo's second eldest brother, formerly political officer at Gilgit, another forward station on the Indian frontier, currently personal aide to Lord Elgin, Viceroy and Governor-General of India. "I suppose he didn't get the hint when I didn't take it with me, because he sent it again by post."

"What did the Braeburns say after you showed them the photograph?"

"That I'd find you fishing upstream by the water mill."

"Did they—did they recognize you?"

"I believe they did," he said coolly.

Surely, none of this was real. The man who had once been her husband was not standing before her, smelling of horse and road dust and speaking with a voice scratchy with fatigue. He did not mean for her to travel with him. And he had not exposed her as a sham to the kind and decent Braeburns.

"And what will you tell them now, when you sit down to tea?"

He smiled, not a very nice smile. "That will depend entirely on you. Were we to start our journey immediately after tea, I would compose a lovely tale of forced separation, heart-wrenching mutual longing, and a joyful reunion here in this most inaccessible of locales. Otherwise, I'll tell them we are divorced."

"We are not divorced."

"Let's not split hairs. It was a divorce in everything but name."

"They will not believe you."

"And they will believe you who, until a quarter hour ago, was a widow?"

She took a deep breath and turned her head. "It cannot be helped. To me, you no longer exist."

From time to time she would be at the most incidental activity—lacing her boots or reading an article on the adhesion of the intestine to the stump after an ovariotomy—and a physical memory would barrel out of nowhere and mow her down like a runaway carriage.

The boutonniere he'd worn the evening he first kissed her, a single stephanotis blossom, pure white, as tiny and lovely as a snowflake.

The sensation of raindrops on warm wool as she placed her hand on his sleeve—he'd come personally to the curb to see her into her carriage—and the wonderful stillness of her world as he said, smiling, through the still-open carriage door, "Well, why not? It should be no hardship to be married to you."

The almost prismatic glint of sunlight on the fob of his enameled watch—which she'd given to him as an engagement present. He held it suspended in midair, staring at its pendulum swing, while she asked for his cooperation in obtaining an annulment.

But mostly those upsurges of memory were nothing but ghost pains, nervous misfires from limbs that had been long since amputated.

To me, you no longer exist.

He moved as if in recoil. As if he flinched. When he spoke, however, his voice was wholly serene. "Divorced it is then."

Chapter Two

Mr. and Mrs. Braeburn were originally from Edinburgh. Mr. Braeburn was a Presbyterian minister and an avid scholar of the lands and peoples between the frontier of Russia and the frontier of India. Mrs. Braeburn said, laughing, that she'd married Mr. Braeburn thinking she'd be arranging flowers for the church and taking soup to sick parishioners, only to spend most of their married life tramping all over the Himalayas. For the past ten months they'd lived in Rumbur Valley, studying the cosmology of the Kalasha, the last unconverted people of the Hindu Kush—an island of paganism in a sea of Islam.

Because the stacked stone Kalasha house the Braeburns occupied was not much larger than a postbox, tea was held alfresco. The Commander, the Braeburns' small Portuguese cook, had managed to make a fresh cake in the time since Leo's arrival. With eggs, Mrs. Braeburn informed him, smuggled in two days before from the nearest Muslim village, since the Kalasha's religion frowned upon both chicken and eggs in the diet.

Leo managed a grin at this account of The Commander's ingenuity. Mrs. Braeburn returned a nervous smile. She was waiting, Leo realized, for Bryony to join them. And then The Questions would finally be asked.

When Bryony did appear, conversation stopped. She carried the fishing rods in her right hand, the bucket in her left. She'd fished often when she was fifteen, spending the whole day by herself, with a basket of sandwiches and a canteen. His eleven-year-old self used to watch her from the opposite bank of the stream, wishing he knew what to say to the silent, intense girl from the neighboring estate.

To me, you no longer exist.

To her, he'd never existed, except those few wonderful weeks before their wedding that distant spring of 1893.

He watched her wend her way past women in vibrantly embroidered black robes guiding water into the irrigation canals that supplied the fields of wheat, women in vibrantly embroidered black robes shaking ripe mulberries from trees onto blankets, women in vibrantly embroidered black robes cutting hay to make winter fodder.

Mrs. Braeburn said something about the Kalasha men being away at summer high pasture. Leo nodded, barely registering her words. Bryony handed the bucket and the fishing rods to The Commander, who was chopping carrots on the veranda of the house, with a soft "Only one, I'm afraid." And then she approached the table at last.

He rose. His joints ached with the movement—all the traveling had taken its toll on him. The fever that had ragged at him since he set out from Chitral in the morning was beginning to subside, the chills largely gone, but his headache still lingered. He wished he'd thought to take some more phenacetin in Ayun.

"Mrs. Marsden," he murmured as he pulled out her chair.

The corners of her lips tightened. She glanced at him, then at the Braeburns, as if trying to gauge how much truth had been irreversibly spilled.

"Oh good, now we are all here," said Mrs. Braeburn, her cheer rather overbright.

She poured tea for Bryony, who accepted the teacup, but set it down in the same motion. "Do you still have your special whiskey, Mr. Braeburn?"

Mr. Braeburn cleared his throat. "Why, yes."

"Would you mind serving us a few drops of it?"

So whatever she'd decided needed the help of strong liquor.

"Of course not," said Mr. Braeburn, somewhat puzzled. "I was going to serve it at dinner, but I suppose now is as good a time as any."

He gestured at The Commander. The Commander ducked into the house and promptly returned with a bottle of whiskey and four small glasses.

Mr. Braeburn poured. "What shall we drink to?"

"To fond memories," said Bryony, raising her glass. "Mr. Marsden and I are leaving as soon as my belongings can be packed. I wish to take this moment to thank you both for your excellent and admirable friendship."

"So soon?" gasped Mrs. Braeburn. "But why?"

Bryony gave Leo a hard stare. "Mr. Marsden can tell it far better than I."

Across the table she sat rigidly, as tightly wound as the mainspring of a newly cranked clock. He still remembered a time when the tension she carried within her had been unbearably erotic to him, when he'd believed that all she needed was some proper lovemaking to turn her limp, relaxed, and happy.
Life had its way of beating humbleness into a man.

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2011

    Wow. Must read. Must own!

    A touching story of lost love found amid an uprising in 1897 India. Great characters and a moving, lovely romance. I was very sorry to see it end. I loved that they found their love again as we saw their past story in flashbacks. Bravo!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Wonderful!!!

    What a truly heartbreaking, beautiful story. Please, read it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2009

    A great read

    I never read Thomas before so I was happily surprised with this novel. She obviously did her research and her characters were believably flawed but not annoyingly so. Well, sometimes I thought the heroine was a bit harsh but she admitted her problems and her needs to overcome them by the end. Some of the steamier scenes seemed a bit unrealistic for the heroine to engage in because of her emotional issues. I get really tired of romance novels having a madman threatening their safety but their danger was believable and surmountable, a welcome addition instead of a plot stretcher! I'll likely pick up another Thomas novel the next time I get the chance.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    sherry's best

    I haven't read a book this good in a very long time! this is sherry's best so far. the characters are so vivid, the imagery so alive. i wasn't able to put the book down! simply the best!
    just wish it had a better cover -- like the first private arrangement cover. sherry's previous two books stood out from the pack because they were different. oh well, do not judge the book by it's cover...

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    LaFy taffy

    No no no i can not read this

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2013

    This was a slow moving read.

    This novel has some touching moments especially near the end. Overall I thought there was too much description of landscape and not enough interaction by the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it--but had to get past the cover ;-)

    This is a much better book than the cover gives the impression of. It is very character-driven, as most of the story is told internally, through flashbacks and through the thoughts of the two main characters. Basically it's about two people who loved each other once, though they never admitted it either to each other or to themselves who have allowed circumstances and misunderstandings to separate them. Yep, a whole lot of drama. But it's good drama...the good kind of angst, that eventually leads to something positive and that comes from a source that (once you know what it is) actually makes sense, unlike the annoying whining of say, Harry Potter in book five (the thought still makes me want to smack him--get over it already! Argh!). Had a hard time putting this one down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    Touching Novel

    I just finished reading this book and I absolutely loved it. Not only was there depth to the characters, the plot was excellent and the love scenes were tactfully written. I found myself crying during certain parts of the book, it was that touching. I highly recommend reading this book and I look forward to reading other books by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    One of my all time favorites! Beautifully written, so engaging.

    One of my all time favorites! Beautifully written, so engaging. I always read this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Wonderful!

    I will read this arthor again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2010

    Amazing story!

    This book swept me away. Not Quite a Husband is one of the most original stories I've read in a long time. I finished the book too quickly. I already want to go back and savor it again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    ANOTHER ONE OF A KIND 5 STAR BOOK FROM SHERRY THOMAS

    ANOTHER ONE OF A KIND 5 STAR BOOK FROM SHERRY, June 14, 2010


    This review is from: Not Quite a Husband (Mass Market Paperback)
    I wish I'd done this review immediately after reading the book. Better late than never, my tribute to an amazing author. Leo and Bryony have a marriage that has elements of Classical Greek Tragedy. They love each other deeply and yet their marriage was over before the wedding ceremony even took place. Bryony is a strong woman, a very successful doctor in a time when women were only beginning to make their way into professions, even then it was not well taken. She has lived believing she is without anyone truly loving her for most of her life. Leo is a prodigy, and a beautiful man with a beautiful brilliant mind. He has loved Briony since he was a child. Both have an "hamartia", a fatal flaw, that brings tragedy to their lives and relationship. Their love is complex and flawed, their lives are complex and they end up in a situation that forces them to really look at their individual lives, motivations, and love. This is another Sherry Thomas masterwork! The use of language is beautiful, perfect. The words draw the reader into the emotions of the characters in such a way that it is almost impossible for the reader not to deeply feel the joy, the sorrow and the love. Another laugh, cry, laugh some more and cry some more until reaching the ultimate end. I LOVE THIS BOOK! This book also makes me think Sherry Thomas shares Robin Schone's genius. This is my favorite Sherry Thomas book. Sherry Thomas, like Robin Schone, is one of my very favorite authors of any genre. I highly recommend all of Sherry Thomas' books in addition to the recommendations listed below.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I sooo loved this book! A love at first sight, romantic Romance!

    This author was new to me, and with this book "Not Quite a Husband" the author establishes herself as a wonderful and talented author.

    This book is about love at first sight for Leo Marsden, he hero in the book (he is 2 years old, and his beloved is 6), love in his teens for his beloved (he runs and gives her flowers as she is driving away to medical school), love as adults. Leo completely loves his beloved, Byrony Asquith, but she thinks she is, doesn't know if she is, thinks she isn't, knows she is pretending she isn't, and finally, ahhhh, at last admits that she has always loved Leo and acts like it!! Is this a great book or what!!?

    This is indeed a great book and a unique book and story. First, it is the man, Leo, who is completely smitten with his beloved and never gives up. Okay sure, so we find out he had a moment of fear and confusion and makes a big mistake---alrighttt!!, a very big mistake, but he thinks that Byrony will never find out. Unfortunately, Byrony does find out and it is heart-wrenching scene when she finds out, and this is when I really, really start to understand and like Byrony. She carries on. As unloved and lonely as she feels almost all her life after her step-mom died, she carries on with her life as a good and giving doctor. It is even more heart wrenching when both of them finally talk about Leo's mistake, and my wonderful sweet, Leo cannot forgive himself for his mistake now doublely bad because his mistake is what doomed their failed marriage. Leo understands now why Byrony was cold with him, in bed and in the marriage. *Guh, and gulp* I'm tellling you, a better romance book and Man you will not find (except maybe in a Julie Garwood story).

    Please read this book. It will make you believe in love and loyalty between a man and his beloved.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    As gripping as Ms. Thomas' first two books, owing to well-drawn characters and a well-plotted story.

    Bryony Asquith is in India when after years of estrangement Leo Marsden brings her word of her father's illness and to escort her home. (He's always known where she is, whether in America or Germany and has managed to work in those places and keep an eye on her). In the weeks they're together we feel their pull and their tension and learn the back story: Hers was a lonely childhood, except for 3 short glorious years with beloved stepmother Toddy who died in childbirth. Neglect taught her to withdraw into a frosty, unforgiving shell. Her career as a surgeon, socially off-putting for a woman, keeps her that way. But at the edges of her demeanor she is more and more drawn to the magnetic Leo and falls madly in love with him. He's quite the renowned mathematical genius as well as immensely charismatic and handsome. He's loved Bryony since he was a small child (he's 4 years younger); in fact the happiest day of his life was when Bryony proposed to him. It's such a strange match that deep down Leo doesn't trust that he can change her. And Bryony is untrusting of his love because she doesn't believe that anyone can love her. In bits and pieces we learn of the moment on the eve of their wedding when Bryony witnessed his dalliance with an old flame, went ahead with the marriage, but much to his bewilderment shut herself off from him, until after a year of misery she asked for an annulment. All the misunderstanding, lack of communication (Leo had felt guilty at his impulsive indiscretion, but didn't know that she had seen them), comes out on their long trek from India back to England. It's a perilous journey, physically (Leo's malaria; steep mountain passes) and psychologically (being together doesn't permit her to shut herself away from her past, her love and Leo's pull). And much is resolved when imminent death is upon them at a besieged fort.
    (From "Delicious", brothers Will, Matthew, and Jeremy Marsden appear tangentially as do Stuart Somerset and Lady Vera Drake who meets with Leo to ask about her godson [son], now journalist Michael Robbins).

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

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    Definitely a keeper!

    Bryony Asquith left her tumultous marriage behind and went to India, not expecting that one day, her ex-husband Leo Marsden would come after her. Leo, whose smile had felled her. Leo, who broke her heart before they could say their vows. Leo, whom she still loved.

    The short review: I laughed and cried as I read this book. And cried again. Definitely a keeper!

    The long review:

    I have to gush about Leo. He's a totally to-die-for hero. I think his most endearing quality is that he has loved Bryony since his youth, and even after the terrible things Bryony has done to him, he still continued to love her, protect her and stayed faithful to her. Throughout the book, we can see Leo taking care of her, making sure she's comfortable, that she's not hungry, etc. And I like that he decided to trust Bryony in the end--trust her regarding their future. This is a powerful story of how love makes us a better person.

    I especially love the last paragraph of the book. Read it and I dare you not to get tears in your eyes.

    Bryony comes across as prickly and antagonistic toward Leo, at least in the beginning, but she has reason. Good reason, though I don't know why she couldn't have confronted Leo with the truth in the first place. Maybe because of the shame she felt, the shame which shut her mouth. Others may this decry this as The Big Miscommunication issue that could've been resolved easily enough, but I feel that the author carried this off well enough due to the emotions that the character was feeling. Moreover, even if Bryony and Leo had talked about this during the first few months of their marriage, the problem might still have existed, because as Leo said (not exact words), there is something about war that distills everything into the essential: that only love matters, in the end.

    When one is near death, or close to, because in war, one never knows, one then realizes the things that are truly important.

    Though most of the book happened in war-torn India, the author's vivid descriptions made this exotic setting come alive. However, most of the descriptions of the different tribes and the animosity between and among them went right over my head because, to be honest, I truly don't have any idea what these tribes are and I also couldn't be bothered to go look for a map while I'm the grip of the story. Except for Swat Valley, of course.

    Sherry Thomas is simply amazing with this book, combining a vivid description of the setting with a sweet, powerful story of love that touches the heart. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    Wonderful Mastery of the English Language

    Sherry Thomas' writing style guides you through a story like a good sherpa would take you to the top of Everest - confident that you can follow without a complete description of every step to come and without repeating every thought in every chapter. You get to know the characters layer by layer. You come to sympathize with them and their inability to be themselves with eachother, but that comes as the story unravels. You're not even quite sure, until the end, that they will find a way to acknowledge that they desparately want to be together.

    I read every page of Ms. Thomas' books, do not skip to read the end, and place them on my shelf when finished so they can be read again in a couple of years. When's the next one due?

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    An Unusual Historical

    And that's how I found this author, at the blog Unusual Historicals. This isn't your standard "drawing room" romance and the protagonists' painful attraction to one another is poignant. They certainly go to great lengths, and distances, because of that attraction. It's definitely on my keeper shelf.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

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    Pour me another Sherry

    A little more worldly than Sherry's first 2 books, and it had a more serious undertone with the war in India. Like her other books, Sherry has a way to draw readers into her venus flytrap and keep us there, wanting to know where the relationship went wrong - and praying that it goes right eventually. I believe this is the first woman doctor who has graced the historical romance genre - and frankly, I really appreciated this unique aspect of Byrony where her first husband is her medical profession and Leo must play a second fiddle.

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Can't get enough Sherry Thomas

    Lisa Kleypas calls Sherry Thomas 'the most powerfully original historical romance author writing today.' I have to admit, I am just as much a fan. After an unabashed love affair with both Private Arrangements and Delicious, I sprinted to my local bookseller almost the minute I heard Not Quite a Husband was out. I then let it languish on my desk for days.

    I follow Sherry on Twitter, where she had bemoaned some revisions and agonized over word usage. I hadn't had a good week. I needed an indulgent treat - what if NQAH didn't live up to my expectations? On the third day, I gathered my courage and eased open the cover.

    Silly me, of little faith. I finally surfaced to the realization that it was hours past my bedtime.

    If there is one thing that sets Sherry Thomas apart from the crowd, it is her prose. I think I would read anything she wrote just to wallow in the richness of her language. Fortunately, she uses that wonderful voice to create unique unforgettable characters, toss them into a fully-developed historical backdrop, and then poke and prod at their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, and insecurities until they emerge into a strong, balanced relationship. Did I mention the inviting historical tidbits? Did I mention Sherry does her research?

    Finally, the one thing I can't do is categorize "what to expect" from a Sherry Thomas novel (except the prose thing; I think I covered that). Private Arrangements drew me in with it's unexpected plot and character twists. Delicious was food porn. (Sorry Sherry, I know there were people, but I was salivating too much to pay attention to them.) Not Quite a Husband locked me in a vice grip of emotional intensity that sweeps back over me every time I glance at the cover. The besieged fort in the middle of India's Swat valley went almost unnoticed next to the emotional battles Bryony and Leo are waging.

    What's next, Ms. Thomas? I'll be reading!

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

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    A really good story

    I enjoyed the entire book and stayed up late into the night to finish it. The imagery was really wonderful, describing India and the uprisings in the very late 1800's. Bryony and Leo are such a compelling couple, both are extremely intelligent and masters of their chosen fields, medicine and mathematics and well as excellent chess players. Leo is the golden boy to whom everything comes easily, to whom people gravitate to at parties, and he has loved Bryony forever. She is very introverted, having lost the one perfect person (at least to her) who ever showed her love when her stepmother died. When Leo agreed to marry her she thought the perfect person was hers again.

    When it turned out that Leo was human and could make a mistake, Bryony kept the hurt inside and never told Leo that she knew. Their marriage became a prison for her and she asked to end it. Leo allowed this but has followed her around the world, just to be near her. Now he has an opportunity to actually go to her and ask her to come back to England as her father is sick.

    Their journey through India is more than just travel, it is a journey back to their marriage. Ms. Thomas is an excellend storyteller.

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