REVIEW: A Prudent Match by Laura Matthews
Dear Ms. Matthews:
Imagine my surprise when I found a release of yours on Fictionwise that I hadn’t bought. I spent last week re-reading some of my favorite traditional regencies and I lamented anew how much I missed this sub genre. I’m not certain what it is about the trad regency that I like so much, but I think it’s that the setting seems so genuine that I can really lose myself in the period and enjoy watching the pleasurable courtship take place.
The focus of the relationships are rarely overtly physical which makes A Prudent Match so unusual. The story starts out with said William Ledbetter, Eighth Baron Ledbetter, and Prudence Stockworth tying the knot. Prudence inherited a great deal of money from her deceased fiancé of three years and most everyone, including William’s sister, believes that he is marrying Prudence for her money.
Prudence doesn’t object to this exactly. She isn’t forced into marriage. She isn’t so on the shelf, particularly with the great fortune, that she had to marry Ledbetter and only Ledbetter. I think Prudence had a good sense of her own worth and she didn’t hold Ledbetter in awe like some did, given his distinguished family name and handsome countenance.
For Ledbetter’s part, he likes Prudence, but can’t help but wonder if he entirely has her measure.
He heard her whisper, "Oh, I shall miss you, Pru. Write to me often. Promise you will!”
“I will," his bride agreed, "for with Ledbetter to frank my least significant words, I shan’t hesitate to post them.”
He eyed his bride sharply. Somehow it almost sounded-‘though of course she hadn’t meant it to-‘as if she had married him because he could frank her letters to her sister. And there was that gleam in her eyes, the gleam he suspected meant that she was amusing herself at someone else’s expense-‘in this case, his.
And then there is the issue of Prudence’s innocence which Ledbetter stultifyingly announced that he found so charming earlier. Prudence found Ledbetter to be too overwhelming for her and it made her quite afraid of marital relations. She recognizes her "duty" and resigns herself to that fate which, in turn, makes Ledbetter quite angry for her wants Prudence to want him like he desires her.
“But you and I are wife and husband now," he protested. “That doesn’t make it any less embarrassing … or frightening.”
“How? Because a few words are spoken in front of us? Because we said "I do’?" Prudence scoffed. "I scarcely know you, and yet I am to allow you to … to do with my body what you wish
It’s fairly amusing watching Ledbetter have to deal with Prudence’s embarrassment and fear of intimacy given his appreciation of her virginity. In all fairness, Ledbetter is beyond patient and tender and loving with Prudence and it’s a way to show how truly wonderful a character Ledbetter is behind his sometimes evident superiority complex.
There’s a mystery that Prudence has to unravel about the "why" of Ledbetter’s need for her dowry. His property is well maintained. There are plenty of family jewels. The why is a bit complicated and adds to the already precarious relationship between the newlyweds.
I fully appreciate how every plot thread was discussed and how it affected the conflict and interplay between Prudence and Ledbetter ever so subtly from Prudence’s fear of being abandoned and Ledbetter’s real purpose in marrying Prudence. B