A Summer to Remember (Bedwyn Family Series)

A Summer to Remember - Mary Balogh This book truly was written before the Bedwyn sagas... I didn't think it was, but I discovered I was wrong.This book is about Kit Butler, 2nd son and now the Viscount Ravensberg. Kit was a soldier, as second sons are supposed to be, and he was a decorated spy and war hero. But when his eldest brother, Jerome, drowned in a flood helping nearby neighbors, Kit found himself the heir. And so, he sold his commission and tooled around London for a year, dreading the return to his home because of the way he left 3 years ago...Lauren was just about to walk down the aisle at her wedding only a year or so ago. She was to marry Neville, whom she grew up with as brother-sister; except it was expected they would marry when she grew up. When Neville went off to war, he told Lauren not to wait. When he returned, however, they got engaged and planned their wedding. Except that as Lauren was about to walk down that aisle, a disheveled woman walked into the church, who just happened to be Neville's bride -- the one he married on the Continent. And so Lauren's dreams and purpose in life were shattered in an instant.Kit is the devil-may-care rake who is now the heir to his family's title and fortune. Lauren is the perfect lady, albeit older now (26) and somewhat "damaged" because of her infamous wedding that didn't happen. Kit takes a dare from friends to woo and wed Lauren within 6 weeks time. Seems Kit must return to his homestead to celebrate a milestone birthday for his grandmama, and Kit's family has already arranged and contracted a marriage for Kit with Freya Bedwyn. Except that Freya was engaged to his brother Jerome -- that was a big part of the fray 3 years ago: Kit broke his brother's nose and fought with Freya's brother, Ralf, to try to stop their engagement. Kit and Freya had a fling that summer, and Kit was determined to marry Freya, himself, and take her with him to march with the drum. But Freya wouldn't have it; she was a duke's daughter, and she wanted the heir.Lauren suspects that Kit's suit isn't all about her; she knows there's another motive. So when Kit confesses the bet to her in a moment of honor, Lauren surprises him and herself by agreeing to a sham betrothal until the end of the summer, when she will break it off. In the meantime, she will travel with Kit to his home and get him off the hook for wedding Freya -- he'll be free to make his own choice of bride. Lauren wants a summer of adventure... and romance... and Kit agrees to give her a memorable summer.There are elements of the Bedwyn sagas in this book: 1) The sham betrothal reminded me of the one that Freya agreed to in her own book. And some of the interactions between Kit and Lauren reminded me of parts of Freya's experience, as well -- not just because Freya must attend the christening of Kit and Lauren's son, but elements of the romance. 2) Lauren's determination to go into spinsterhood with some "experience" reminded me of Ralf's story -- his wife, Judith, took her own pleasure with Ralf intending never to see him again before she went off into her own spinsterhood.But most of this book is refreshing and real. While it's a romance, there are many underlying issues and emotions that both Kit and Lauren must deal with in their lives. They find freedom with each other -- each helps the other to be free of his or her past. And when the time comes to break off the engagement, Kit is determined to keep Lauren, and she's determined to live her life as she pleases.When Kit comes to tell her the one thing he's not told her -- that he loves her -- he discovers that she's found herself truly free. She's now free to choose her life and her love, without the past or Society or family dictating her will and wishes. Lauren chooses. And Kit chooses. And while we aren't surprised with their choices, we've definitely learned something about freedom and choice and love along the way.