Thursday, March 5, 2015

Married to A Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford & Character Interveiw

Today we are pleased to sit down with John and Mary Bexley, the protagonists from Jane Ashford’s Married to a Perfect Stranger (March 2015). From February 23rd through March 20th the Bexleys will be answering questions about their relationship at each stop in their tour!

What would your spouse say was the last thing the two of you argued about?

Mary: The kitten.

John: That was not an argument, merely an inquiry about the…impaired condition of my new stockings.

Mary: You said you liked cats.

John: I do.

Mary: You called him an infernal imp of Hades.

John: He should not be allowed into the wardrobe.

Mary: I didn’t ‘allow’ him. His natural curiosity led him through the open door.

John: (sighs) We argued about the kitten.

About the author:

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. Her romances have been published all over the world. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Title:  Married to a Perfect Stranger
Author:  Jane Ashford
Published:  March 3/15 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length:  384pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  historical romance
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Time and distance have changed them both…

Quiet and obliging, Mary Fleming and John Bexley marry to please their families and John immediately leaves on a two-year diplomatic mission. Now John is back, and everything they thought they knew about each other was wrong…

It’s disconcerting, irritating—and somehow all very exciting…


John Bexley reined in his hired horse on a slight rise and gazed down at the red brick manor, somnolent under the August sun. Eager as he was to get to London, he’d felt he must detour west into Somerset to fetch Mary. Her family’s decision to put her under the care of a great-aunt while he was away just showed he was right to fear that such a shy, quiet girl couldn’t arrange a journey on her own. And now that he was here, the sight of this place soothed him; it looked the very essence of English country comfort and peace.

John’s knock was answered by an aged butler. He gave his name, stepped in, and inhaled the familiar scents of beeswax polish and potpourri. The place reminded him of his own home farther north. Golden light pooled on the wooden floor and gleamed on the stair rail. In the rooms on either side of the entry, the furnishings were classic and inviting. Mary had certainly had a beautiful and serene spot in which to wait for him. “Mary’s husband,” he added when it seemed as if the old man didn’t know what to do with him. “I believe I am expected.”

“Yes, si…”

A filthy, hysterical chicken shot through the rear door of the dining parlor on his left, skidded in a turn around the table, and raced past him, neck extended, screeching, flapping its mottled wings. A little boy slathered with mud came racing after it, careened off the doorjamb, and staggered across the entryway, leaving streaks and globs of dirt in his wake. The old butler stiffened in horror.

The bird hopped across a flowered sofa in the front parlor, stitching it with muddy tracks, circled the delicate carpet, and looped back toward John. The boy in pursuit slipped, fell, jumped up, and turned to follow. He flapped muddy hands at the fowl in an inept attempt to trap it.

What seemed like a herd of adults jostled into the dining parlor, then surged forward. “Arthur!” snapped a young woman, her voice crackling with authority.

“It isn’t my fault,” the boy shouted over the wild squawking. “I pulled her from the mire. Fox was after her. I never shot her or nothing.”

As the crazed chicken surged past him, John bent, reached, and snatched hold of its legs. When he straightened, he held the muddy bird upside down, at arm’s length, well away from his clothing. It flapped and protested; flakes of dirt dropped to the floor.

“Good!” said the managing female, striding from the dining room into the hall. “Take it from him, Alice, and put it outside at once.”

The middle-aged maid jumped to obey like a subaltern responding to a commanding general. The butler relaxed. The boy stood to attention. “It wasn’t me, I swear,” he repeated. “I rescued ’er. I killed three rats as well. Would have been four, but I…”

“Very well, Arthur,” the woman replied. “Go now and get cleaned up.”

The boy finally noticed the mud sliding from his clothes to the polished floor. His face shifted from defensive to horrified, and he slunk out. In the same moment, John realized that the woman with a voice like a sergeant major was his meek little sparrow of a wife.

My Review:

Ashford paints a picture of the past for her audience.  She brought this world to life in a subtle yet powerful way that allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story.  Readers get a really good feel for the times and the lives of the characters.  All the while Ashford tells a uniquely captivating tale that in turn made me giggle in surprise and gasp in suspense.

Ashford tells her story with characters that are unique and quite well developed.  Each one stood on their own, adding to the story as a whole.  My heart broke for Mary.  So few people believed in her that she stopped believing in herself.  She epitomized the way that so many of us feel inside.  Seeing her come to life because of the unwavering belief her husband found in her, all the while he was becoming his true self was heart-warming.  The household staff was absolutely hilarious.  They added not only comic relief, but also a sense of completeness to the story.

This was a very enjoyable, intricately crafted romance that definitely stands out on its own.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those who enjoy historical romances, nor would I hesitate to read more of this author’s work in the future.

Be sure to enter the tour wide giveaway with Jane Ashford & Married to a Perfect Stranger.

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