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on April 25, 2001
The beginning of The Marriage Contract promises an interesting premise in a unique Regency setting: In a last ditch effort to save herself from spinsterhood, Anne Burnett is married by proxy to a man she's never met, Aidan Black. A confirmed bachelor, he has chosen to live outside of society in a medieval castle, his hobby of sorts. From there, the story, though told adequately, unfolds predictably. Once the two meet, the heroine transforms the hero's unkempt living quarters into a real home, endears herself to his servants and subordinates, is beautiful and quite plucky. This suggests to our hero, required in romance to oppose losing his heart to a woman, that maybe he could use a wife after all.
There is no clearly defined reason why Anne and Aidan, both exceedingly nice, yet two-dimensional people, shouldn't be together. The conflicts that keep the couple from willingly falling into each other's arms amount to little more than this being the author's intention.
The Scotts versus English issue of the period fuels the most exciting situations and gives the characters something to do. But overall, the story telling is too simplistic, the writing style too elementary. The Marriage Contract reads as a young adult novel (albeit with one or two lackluster sex scenes) without challenging the more sophisticated literary palate of today's romance audience. Author Cathy Maxwell might do well to apply her solid, but take-no-chances writing ability to a different genre, one that caters to a preteen readership.
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on February 1, 2001
The Ton considers her two seasons in London as failures because Anne Burnett failed to make a match. Anne set an apparently impossible goal for an orphan like herself: she wanted to marry for love instead of securing her future.

Anne is forced to marry by proxy some obscure Scottish lunatic, Mad Earl Tiebauld, Aidan Black, whose sister arranged the marriage. Anne travels to her new home only to receive a very unfriendly welcome by her spouse, who not only rejects her, but he wants her back in London. However, the English transplant ignores the irritable Scot and soon her actions gain the respect and support of his clan. To her chagrin, Anne also captures Aidan's black heart just as she now loves him too, but will he wisely keep her at his side or madly cling to his notion she belongs in England?

THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT is an amusing well written Regency romance starring two charming and not so mad (except in love) lead characters. When the story line stays with the main plot the battle of the sexes, it is an absolute delight that will provide fans with a powerfully pleasurable read. However, a political subplot, though cleverly inserted and actually tied back to the prime theme, will feel intrusive because the convincing main tale is so good and so much fun. Cathy Maxwell shows why her historicals are so well received by reviewers and fans with this fabulous Regency novel.

Harriet Klausner
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on February 19, 2001
Aiden Black, the Earl of Tiebauld, is out hunting in Scotland for a wildcat when he stumbles across a hopeless woman who is about to be attacked by the object of his pursuit. He, of course, saves her and finds out that she's just been thrown out of her coach in some sort of accident and the driver is dead. What he does NOT know then is that she, Anne Burnett, is actually his wife, married to him by proxy back in England......
As you can see, the beginning of THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT is action-packed. We soon are introduced to the main characters and their personalities are revealed clearly and efficiently by the end of chapter 1.
As is expected, Aiden does not want a wife, especially one he marries sight-unseen. Although he is attracted to Anne from the start, he tries to send her back. No, Aiden is not the kind of tortured hero who mistreats the heroine. But he does resort to some tactics to make Anne-the-Stubborn-English-Gentlewoman want to return to London of her own accord--he asks,for example, Anne to cook breakfast for a large group of ravenous guests, and wants her to clean the manure in the stable (reducing his lady to what, a servant?).......Aiden stikes me as one-dimensional: when he's not trying to drive Anne out, he is busy having the internal struggle of whether he should side with his Scottish friends in the up-coming rebellion or not. (Aside from this, Aiden seems to be just acting like Sir Bannor the Bold from Teresa Medeiros's CHARMING THE PRINCE--the two bear many similarities)
Frankly, Anne is the only character that keeps me reading THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT. Compared to Aiden, she is much more likable. She stands her ground and is quite reasonable ALMOST all the time (although it escapes me why, in one episode, she gets angry with Aiden when he buys her hair pins--could it be that she thinks he's just implying his disapproval of her messy hair---oh, come on!!) I finish the book mainly to see what happens to her in the end.
Overall, THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT is a book that "flows," albeit awkwardly at times. I get the impression that this is the last of a trilogy by Cathy Maxwell, for near the end, out of nowhere, two of anne's best friends come to visit her and the three talks about some things they've done together, about which I haven't the faintest clue......and so you know, this book should not be read alone. The plot and characters probably will not stay with you for a long time, but if you have nothing else to read and don't want to get stuck with some "wall-bangers", you may want to try this book.
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on June 18, 2001
With nothing better to do on a lonely Saturday night, I picked up "The Marriage Contract" that had been calling my name for some time. What a delight and surprise -- I could not put the book down. I had it read in 2 days flat and was left in a whirlwind of giddiness. Very funny with two very strong and independent personalities who learn to live and love one another against the odds. The beginning of the end was a little surprising and unexpected, but well worth the final AHhh of relief for both Anne and Aidan. A must read for anyone who wants to laugh, cry, and just plain out feel giddy with lovely feeling tickling your heart....
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on December 8, 2002
This book was very sweet and I found it took some entertaining and unpredictable turns in dialogue and events. What I found different about this heroine than in many other romance novels is that this heroine appears very ordinary, in terms of money (in fact sub-par), looks (ordinary by sheep society members), and perhaps even presence (she proves that wrong later on). But she manages to make her presence very powerfully felt throughout the novel. In other romance novels, we always read about the heroine being the most beautiful (all eyes turn to her when she enters the room, conversation stops, that sort of thing), or we read about the girl being gawky and awkward as a youngster, but suddenly blossoming into an arresting beauty when she matures(ugly duckling sort of thing). Or perhaps, they'll have a scene where the seemingly ordinary looking woman freshens up and dons a wonderful gown and jewels, displaying a regality that inspires heads to turn. But in this book, she doesn't have to be anything but herself the whole time, and she is still deemed desirable. She doesn't have to be fought over and desired by every man in order to be beautiful. She doesn't have to stop traffic, but you still see her as a beautiful woman. And one can tell that the attraction a man feels for her is through her cunning and grace. The man is pretty nice, too. I like that they get to know each other as they are married. It has a very nice romantic edge to it.
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on June 27, 2002
Anne isn't rich. Anne isn't beautiful. Anne isn't anything special, just a gentel orphan who nobody wants. So what's the big deal if she comprimises her pride for a proxy marriage to a madman? She'd have a home. She'd have a family. She's belong.
Adian isn't gentle. He's wild, unpredictable, and a total outcast. He turned his back on society in favor of his country home in Scotland.
Adian didn't want a wife, but his meddling sister gave him one. She whisked herself into his life and transformed his dirty, dingy castle into a warm and welcoming home. She passed his every test...except one.
She's English. He's Scottish, and at the verge of a war, he can't afford to trust her, but she trusts him, and she loves him. All she has to do is prove it.
An exciting but unconventional book. It keeps you on your toes, with wondeful passion, love and adventure.
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on September 29, 2011
Annie Burnett lived with her aunt and uncle after her parents died. They sponsored Annie for two seasons, hoping she would get an offer for marriage. However, the ton knew Annie didn't come from an aristocratic family and didn't have any social connections to bring into a marriage. Her aunt and uncle made an arrangement for Annie to get married by proxy to Aidan Black, Earl Tiebauld. Aidan had no choice but to accept the marriage. The church and state honored proxy marriage is valid, and not only carries the official seal, but is signed for added insurance by the Archbishops of Canterbury and Archbishop of York.

Lady Waldo decided her brother needed a wife and heir. The solicitor Sir Rupert did a background check on Annie, as well, and Lady Waldo made it her business to know everything about Annie. Lady Waldo chose Annie to be Aidan's wife, and was certain the marriage would work out. Annie is beautiful, intelligent and young with elegant traits. Lady Waldo is dying and has little time left. She wants to make sure that Aidan is married and with a son and heir before she passes on.

Aidan is half English and Scottish. Aidan is a scholar who left England after his first season, looking for a bride, only to overhear young debutantes mocking him. Aidan didn't like being forced into society by his sister Alpina. A week later, he went to the Highland to his Kelwin Castle of Caithness to discover his heritage and take his rightful place as Laird Tiebauld and give guidance to his clansmen.

When Annie arrived in Scotland there was an accident. The coachman Todd lost control of the coach and it turned over. Annie jumped out of the coach, but Todd was nowhere to be seen. Her trunk was tied to the top of the coach and all personal possessions and clothes were thrown all over the hillside. When Annie went looking for Todd, she came across a wildcat. Aidan and two warriors saw a lady and the wildcat that was about ready to go after her. They were wearing kilts, boots, nothing else and blue paint covering their faces. They went hunting to catch a wildcat that was close to the coach. Aidan saw a wedding ring on Annie's finger and assumed that Todd was Annie's husband. Annie said no, that Todd wasn't her husband. "My name is Annie and I am your wife!"

Aidan decided he was going to send Annie back to England tomorrow, but Annie has her own idea. She's staying in Scotland with her husband. It didn't take long before Aidan found himself attracted to Annie. Their relationship grew throughout the book.

Aidan needs to decide if his loyalty lies with England or with Scotland. His clansmen want to start a war. They're trying to smuggle Danish gunpowder in Scotland. The military commander, Major Lambert is trying to brand Aidan as a traitor to England for his own gain and to acquire a title.

I recommend The Marriage Contract, an excellent Historical Regency Romance.
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on September 29, 2005
None of the other Maxwell stories compare to the story of Anne and Aiden.

The Beginning of this story reminds me a bit of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" with Anne finding Aiden's home in a state of such filth and disorder that she undertakes to set it to rights.

Aiden has similar ideas; he sets her to tough tasks in an attempt to cause her to leave, but is surprised to find she can handle it. He has to admit that she's capable and begins to fall for her.

Anne is an enjoyable heroine with a good attitude in a tough situation. When Aiden tries to make her leave she sticks to her guns and wins everyone over.

Aiden is also an enjoyable character who, although he is surprised and disgruntled over his sister's attempt to marry him off by proxy to Anne, his tender side always comes through. He is never cruel and is often compassionate and protective.

Once Anne and Aiden have it together in their personal lives the plot continues. They are dragged away by an interfering Englishman and Aiden's ingenious solution stayed with me for the longest time.

Definately a keeper.
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on March 2, 2008
The plot is very promising and the first half of the book is quite decent, but the second half was just one big 'blah'. There is no real chemistry between Anne and Aiden and the first sex scene happens way, way into the book. This is not necessary bad, but there really was no spark between them and the author focuses on everything else than their relationship. As the other reviewer here suggests, it almost seems that the author was too uncomfortable to write about real feelings and sexual interactions. This book can be easily read by a 14 year old if you go and cross the two page sex scenes out.
Maybe it's just me, but I like my romance novels to have some steam and real passion.
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on June 17, 2001
Aidan Black, the Earl of Tiebauld, is painted blue, wearing a kilt and little else, as he hunts. What he ends up bagging is the wife he didn't know he had. Married by proxy, Anne Burnett has come to Scotland to introduce herself to her husband. Aidan says she's going back to England, but Anne's got other ideas. She plans to stay in the home she's come to love, next to the man she thinks she could love, if only he'd give her a chance.
Two people thrown together by chance (and a meddling older sister), find that they have a chance at a happily-ever-after in Cathy Maxwell's wonderful story where the women are strong and the men wear kilts!
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