Cora Stewart has known since she was six years old that it was arranged that she would marry Andrew Bennett, unite their families and leave Geelong, Australia, to live in England. But she has never been in favour of the plan, and it has long been a bone of contention between her and her father. Now her mother is dead, her father is ill, and she feels obligated to obey her father and end her relationship with Nicholas Waldron. Despite her reservations about the arranged marriage, she agrees that her father can contact the Bennetts, and that she will do her best to comply with his wishes.
In the beginning, Cora is quite unlikeable (although she still seems to attract plenty of male attention, to her father's chagrin). She is headstrong and independent (much like her father), but while he thinks he knows his daughter, his image of her is idealistic, not realistic. But as she is challenged over her attitude towards Ben Charles, and discovers another, less pleasant, side to Nicholas, she begins to change.
I enjoy a good marriage of convenience or arranged marriage story, but that isn't exactly what Cora Villa is. Although Cora has been promised to the absent Andrew Bennett, he is an offstage character for much of the book, and the story is more focussed on Cora's other would-be admirers, Joseph Carson, Ben Charles and Nicholas Walden.
The story is told in omniscient point of view, which gives it rather a distant feel at times, but also enables us to see the characters as they are, without their personalities being filtered through their own perceptions or the perceptions of others. While omniscient viewpoint is currently out of favour as a fictional device, Cora Villa shows that it can be effective when done well, without the moralising interjections that some authors favour, yet using the technique to show different sides to an argument and to foreshadow future events. There are a few too many adverbs, exclamation marks and a few typos, but overall, Cora Villa is a very enjoyable story with a healthy mix of romance and suspense.
Thanks to Meredith Resce for providing a free ebook for review.