Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Heroine is Not the Hero’s First Choice

This HaBO is from Linnea, who wants to find this romance.:

I read this a while ago, probably before 2000, but not sure. It is a Regency.

The hero is madly in love with dramatic and beautiful lady, but he’s an impoverished aristocrat. He must marry for money to save the estate he inherited that is on its last legs. He marries the daughter of a wealthy businessman. She is not beautiful, but starts helping him fix the estate. Meanwhile, the other woman marries an older but attractive lord, who puts up with her and indulges her.

By the end, hero falls in love with and appreciates his wife. The other woman and husband come to visit. The hero finally realizes that he loves his wife and finds the other woman tedious.

This is not A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh–I just reread it.

Sound familiar?


Help a Bitch Out

Comments are Closed

  1. KJ Charles says:

    It’s A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer.

  2. MirandaB says:

    Sounds like ‘A Civil Contract’ by Georgette Heyer.

  3. Empress of Blandings says:

    One I actually knew for once! One of my favourite Heyers – it’s a much quieter book than most of her regencies, but I really enjoy the progression from ‘I must give up love forevah for the sake of my family estate’ to ‘you know what, my wife is actually pretty awesome’.

  4. LisaM says:

    I think this is my first time knowing a HaBO! And now I want to re-read it, I love Jenny.

  5. Could also be Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas, though it’s late Victorian instead of Regency.

  6. Adele Buck says:

    Yup. If this isn’t A Civil Contract, it’s remarkably similar.

  7. Lake says:

    I was thinking Ravishing the Heiress as well (one of my favorite historical) but in that one the beloved ex returns when widowed.

  8. Annie says:

    Definitely A Civil Contract. When the old flame comes to visit, the husband gets distracted by an inside joke with his wife. It’s a sweet romance but I sometimes get uncomfortable with it bc it feels like the hero only likes the heroine bc of what she does for him, not who she is necessarily? I wish there was a bit more romance there

  9. Sandra says:

    Also agree with A Civil Contract, even though it’s been many years since I read it. I remember not caring for it at the time, but not why. Possibly because I was young and thought TWUE LOVE should prevail over a marriage of convenience. At any rate, it’s one of the few Heyer’s I’ve never had a desire to re-read. Maybe I should pull the ancient PB out of storage and give it another try.

  10. Susan Allan says:

    Yes – it’s ‘ACivil Contract’. I think it’s one of Heyer’s best but it’s not a favourite as It has a very pragmatic ending.

  11. I ditto RAVISHING THE HEIRESS by Sherry Thomas.

  12. PamG says:

    I also think that this is A Civil Contract, the only Heyer I’ve only read once, and one of the few with absolutely no hint of humor. I prefer silly Heyer. However, I also read an Edith Layton Regency, A Bride for his Convenience, that is very similar in plot. It’s been a while since I read it, but at the time it forcibly reminded me of A Civil Contract, only I liked it better.

  13. Joanna says:

    Also agree, immediately thought of A Civil Contract.

  14. Karin says:

    I agree it’s probably A Civil Contract, but if you like this trope, I recently read another old Regency which has a very similar plot, The Bartered Bride by Elizabeth Mansfield. The blurb says “Brokenhearted from a shattered romance, Lord Kittridge agreed to marry Cassandra Chivers for forty thousand pounds of her father’s money.”
    I enjoyed it, it had a couple of fun secondary characters too.

  15. Sarah says:

    I think Mary Balogh does this “Marriage of Convenience to love” trope well

  16. CShell says:

    A Civil Contract? Georgette Heyer

  17. Kara says:

    This trope is also in Catherine Coulter’s The Sherbrooke Bride. Douglas wants to marry the beautiful Melissande, but due to some shenanignans by proxy, he winds up married to her sister, Alexandra, while the proxy (a cousin, I think) marries Melissande. Early 1990’s romance.

  18. Gloriamarie Amalfitano says:

    This is most definitely “A Civil Contract” by Georgette Heyer.

  19. Sandra says:

    @Karin: I really liked Elizabeth Mansfield back in the day. I seem to recall she also published under another name for a different imprint, but don’t remember what it was. Wikipedia has a short article with a list of her books, but not the name I’m trying to recall.

  20. Janine says:

    I agree that given the timing and the detail of the ex-girlfriend coming to visit with her husband, it’s probably “A Civil Contract.” (I was also thinking “Ravishing the Heiress,” but it’s much newer and also when the husband and ex-meet up again, she’s widowed and available.) THat said, if anyone who is not the OP is looking for this trope, I would really recommend the Sherry Thomas version. I HATED the end of Civil Contract; it is not really an HEA in my opinion. Plump red-faced women deserve passionate love too!

  21. Linnea J Priest says:

    That’s it!!! Thanks so much, you guys!!!!!

  22. LML says:

    @Sandra: Elizabeth Mansfield’s name was Paula Schwartz, and she published under the names Paula Jonas, Paula Reibel, and Paula Reid, (according to Fantastic Fiction). Fantastic Fiction website existed long before most authors had websites or blogs. I was reading mysteries then, and could not have kept series in order without Fantastic Fiction. It remains my primary source – more efficient than navigating authors’ websites.

  23. Anna B says:

    I just read Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas and it’s this exact storyline. It’s angsty and stressful AF but I liked it!

  24. Karin says:

    @Janine, I didn’t *hate* the end of A Civil Contract, but I agree, it’s not much of an HEA. The hero is content, and comfortable with the marriage, but I wouldn’t say he’s in love with Jenny. The hero is madly in love by the end of the Mansfield book I suggested, and there is some groveling.

  25. Kareni says:

    It’s good to know that I’m not the only one for whom ‘a while ago’ could be some time before 2000!

  26. Sandra says:

    @LML: Wikipedia lists those names as well. I confused her with another author from the same period — Elizabeth Neff Walker, who also published as Laura Matthews. It’s been a long time, and the memory is not what it used to be. I would be lost without my reference library, aka the books stored in the spare room.

  27. LML says:

    @Sandra, it never occurred to me to look up an author on Wikipedia. Musicians, movies, municipalities, but not authors.

  28. Julie says:

    I also vote for Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas as being far superior to the Heyer, as an example of this trope. That book is so great!

  29. Susan Allan says:

    Sorry, but I thought ‘Ravishing the Heiress’ was absolutely dreadful. For me, it was the most unromantic book ever, with a TSTL heroine and an insensitive jerk of a hero who never grovels or redeems himself. Heyer’s book is an adult, literate, intelligent book which I don’t read often because I find the ending sad but, as a book it is vastly superior to the ravishing the heiress one – just my opinion of course!

  30. Susan/DC says:

    I found the heroine of Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT totally uninteresting. Even the one spark she shows, the interest in Chinese art of some sort (maybe porcelain, but it’s been a long time since I read it so I don’t remember exactly) turns out to be her father’s interest. The hero’s original love showed herself to be spoiled and self-centered so not a good match for him, although her husband was quite aware of her shortcomings and loved her anyway. So no humor and a boring heroine means this is one of my 3 least favorite Heyer’s.

Comments are closed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.

↑ Back to Top