“Beauty for Ashes” by Dorothy Clark was well worth my time reading the book. We begin in New York in 1820 with Elizabeth Frazier’s father insisting that she wed someone who is not to her liking. Not only is this man not to her liking, he is also abusive. When she tries to reason with her father, he locks her in her room without shoes while he goes to discuss the betrothal that she abhors. Her mother is no help to her as she sees all men as the same kind as her husband and tells Elizabeth that she just needs to get used to being treated this way. In her desperation, she sneaks from the house and walks as far as she can to an inn where she hopes to summon help.
Unknown to her, this inn is the rendezvous point for Justin Randolph and the woman who has agreed to a marriage of convenience with him for a monetary settlement. He has never met her, has no idea what she looks like. So when Elizabeth shows up all concerned think she is the one he is to marry. In her fear she agrees to the arrangement, but declines all monetary reward. Justin and Elizabeth are wed and leave immediately for his estate and his children.
Both parties are suspicious of the other. Neither thinks that the other is being truthful and all attempts at civility are non-existent. Even though each thinks their dilemma is solved, there are other forces at work to harm them.
This story goes along at a fast clip and is hard to put down. I will definitely be reading more books by Ms. Clark.