The Wedding Journey by Carla Kelly: C+

From the back cover:
Captain Jesse Randall has never expressed his intense love for Nell Mason—not even as she blossoms into glorious womanhood before his eyes. Her beauty is a treasure as rare and welcome as roses in January. But if Jesse were to tell her at long last that she means the world to him—would she believe him?

Nell’s father is going to marry her to his creditor to settle his ruinous finances. To prevent that, Jesse weds Nell to provide her with his protection for as long as she wants it—never imagining that she could ever return his love. But Nell has much to show her new husband about life, women—and love…

This was favorably reviewed on a book blog I read, so I decided to check it out even though romances are decidedly not my thing. I found it incredibly difficult to get into at first, and was bothered by problems with shoddy editing and with the use of anachronistic words. I seriously considered abandoning it.

And yet, somewhere along the way… I ended up kind of liking it. The story got a lot more interesting when the staff and patients of the military hospital at which Jesse worked were abandoned during a retreat from Spain by the creditor-villain guy who was foiled by Jesse’s wedding to Nell. They had to make their way across the country to the Portuguese border, encountering distrustful villagers and crazy noblemen on the way.

I didn’t much care about the romance between Jesse and Nell. More, I liked the traveling companions they had with them. Two were former patients of Jesse’s—conscripted out of a criminal life and neither a particularly good soldier—who end up redeeming themselves and serving as protectors to the surgeon and his wife, and feeling sort of humbled that they’ve managed to earn someone’s good opinion for the first time in their lives. Another is a former French revolutionary who had acted cowardly in the past and likewise redeems himself by a courageous act. By the time Nell’s drunken dad gets around to redeeming himself, however, I was a little tired of that trope.

While I definitely didn’t hate The Wedding Journey, I really can’t see myself seeking out more by this author. There are better things on which to spend my time.

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