I adore any Romance Theme where strangers marry--arranged marriage, forced marriage, mail order marriage, paper marriage, marriage of convience between strangers...and on and on until the break of dawn!
I love two people having to contend with each other. Have to. Such fun for me!
Married by Proxy is one of these less talked about but lots of fun themes. A proxy marriage is when one or both to the parties to be married isn't there. A proxy stands in.
These marriages are largely illegal now but there are proxy marraige sites popping up all over for the new internet bride boom. Jailhouse weddings as well. Romantic!
The thrill of this theme in Romanceland is that the groom often doesn't know he was getting married. Go figure. And the fun begins!
Here are some wonderful love stories that began as proxy marriages.
1. Charming the Prince by Teresa Medeiros
Lord Bannor the Bold has never feared anything in his life--until the war ends and he finds himself a reluctant papa to a dozen unruly children. He sends his steward out to find them a mother--some meek, plain creature who won't tempt him to get her with child. But his steward returns with a spirited beauty who makes him think of nothing else.
Lady Willow is everything Bannor has sworn to resist. He never dreams she will join forces with those mischievous imps of his to teach him just how sweet surrender can be!
2. High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller
Tired of waiting for his sons to settle down, Arizona-territory rancher Angus McKettrick announces a competition: the first son to marry and produce a grandchild will inherit Triple M ranch. Now, three distinctly different, equally determined cowboys are searching high and low for brides.
If Emmeline Harding knows one thing, it's that she can't hold her liquor. And though she's not sure how she came to wake up next to a stack of gold coins in a brothel, she fears the worst. Fleeing town as a mail-order bride, she wonders: how will she ever confess her past to her handsome new husband?
Freedom-loving Rafe McKettrick is a man of strong beliefs and stronger passions and he'll do anything to win the Triple M -- even marry a stranger. To his surprise, Emmeline's charms beguile him even as the secrets he senses she's hiding ignite jealousy and suspicion. But when a visitor from the past enters the high country, the newlyweds have no choice but to give up on a marriage in name only and seek a union that satisfies them body and soul.
3. The Maiden Bride by Linda Needham
Widowed, Lady Eleanor arrives at the castle of the husband she never met, ruthless warlord Nicholas Bayard. As she explores, a huge shadow overtakes her in the darkness of the tower: an intruder who commands her to leave his castle. Eleanor informs him that she is the wife of the late Lord Nicholas. Shocked to realize that the bride he'd thought had died in the Plague is not only alive, but beautiful and bold, Nicholas hides his identity. But Eleanor is a temptation he cannot resist, and when she learns his true identity, she shows him that love is the greatest miracle of all. Widowed, Lady Eleanor arrives at the castle of the husband she never met, ruthless warlord Nicholas Bayard. As she explores, a huge shadow overtakes her in the darkness of the tower: an intruder who commands her to leave his castle. Eleanor informs him that she is the wife of the late Lord Nicholas. Shocked to realize that the bride he'd thought had died in the Plague is not only alive, but beautiful and bold, Nicholas hides his identity. But Eleanor is a temptation he cannot resist, and when she learns his true identity, she shows him that love is the greatest miracle of all.Widowed, Lady Eleanor arrives at the castle of the husband she never met, ruthless warlord Nicholas Bayard. As she explores, a huge shadow overtakes her in the darkness of the tower: an intruder who commands her to leave his castle. Eleanor informs him that she is the wife of the late Lord Nicholas. Shocked to realize that the bride he'd thought had died in the Plague is not only alive, but beautiful and bold, Nicholas hides his identity. But Eleanor is a temptation he cannot resist, and when she learns his true identity, she shows him that love is the greatest miracle of all.
4. An Officer and a Millionaire by Maureen Child
Mr. January: Hunter Cabot, Navy SEAL
Vital Statistics: Tall, rich and…married?
Mission: Find out who's been sleeping in his bed.
The broad-shouldered military man had no patience with games. Margie—Cabot?—had to go. She'd been masquerading as his spouse for nearly a year, living in his house while he'd been overseas. Now all his skills were focused on payback: it would be sweet, swift and sexy.
But first he'd have that "wedding night!"
5. Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner
Edwina Ladoux hoped becoming a mail-order bride would be her way out of the war-torn South, but as soon as she arrives in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, and meets her hulking, taciturn groom, she realizes she’s made a terrible mistake. Declan Brodie already had one flighty wife who ran off with a gambler before being killed by Indians. He’s hoping for a practical farm woman who can corral his four rambunctious children. Instead, he gets a skinny Southern princess who doesn’t even know how to cook.
Luckily, Edwina and Declan agreed on a three-month courtship period, allowing them time to get the proxy marriage annulled. Yet as the weeks pass, thoughts of annulment turn into hopes for a real marriage—until the unspeakable happens, and suddenly Declan is torn between duty and desire, and Edwina has to fight for the family she’s grown to love…
6. The Marriage Contract by Cathy Maxwell
He was a man exiled from society - handsome, unpredictable, and proud. Dark rumours surrounded his name. But Anne Burnett had signed a marriage contract binding her to Aiden Black, the Earl of Tiebauld. And although she′d never met him, she′s determined to keep her word and make theirs a marriage in truth. Because a well-bred lady with little fortune to recommend her has no choice.
From the moment she arrived, Anne fell in love with Kelwin Castle and its roguishly handsome laird. By day, he instils a fierce loyalty in his people with his masterful ways...and by night, he tempts Anne to surrender her innocence to him. But while he is willing to offer his body, Aiden refuses to give Anne his heart...making her wonder what prevents him from truly claiming her as his wife.
7. When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James
The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.
Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She's determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore's worst fears to rest—until disaster strikes.
The duke demands an annulment.
Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title—or him—without a fight.
She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon's heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.
Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity—but her heart?
8. No Other Man by Shannon Drake
Skylar Connor was widowed before she met the man she married by legal proxy. Now she has come to the Dakota badlands for the home and goldmine left her by her late husband. But it is a painted savage who welcomes "Lady Douglas" to the Black Hills. The handsome half-breed son of a Sioux woman and an English lord, he steals Skylar from her stagecoach ... and declares it is he whom she wed sight unseen. Now Hawk has a wife he doesn't want a sensuous vixen who ignites his rage and his desire ... a beautiful schemer he must punish with ecstasy, and let no other man claim.
9. Married to the Viscount by Sabrina Jeffries
Abigail Mercer was thrilled at being reunited with Spencer Law, whom she met once and later married by proxy. But now Viscount Ravenswood denies all knowledge of their union! Too many witnesses have made it impossible for the secretive Spencer to reject his bride without causing a scandal. So he has proposed a marriage in name only until they can locate his mysteriously absent younger brother—who is responsible for everything!—and untangle this messy affair.
Abigail is incensed, irate . . . and irresistibly attracted to this handsome, infuriating man who hides his smoldering passion behind a proper exterior. So the lady will agree to his terms on one condition: Spencer must seal their bargain with a kiss. But he finds that one deep, lingering, unforgettable kiss isn't nearly enough. And keeping his hands off his pretty wife is going to be much harder than he thought.
10. Wedding for a Knight by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Even a marriage by proxy can't spoil the joy Lady Amicia MacLean feels when she is wedded to Magnus MacKinnon. With his quick wit and dashing smile, the roguish warrior captured her heart when she was still a girl. It's not until he returns from battle that Amicia discovers the truth: the union was made to fill empty MacKinnon coffers with MacLean gold. Magnus knew nothing of this marriage. Honorable and proud, he intends to rebuild his clan's fortune coin by coin himself-and wants nothing to do with his bonny new bride. But Amicia is not one to give up without a fight. She plans to invade Magnus's bedchamber, offer tantalizing glimpses of what every husband has the right to see, and settle for nothing less than the total surrender of the most stubborn knight in the realm!
Let me know if I missed your favortie Proxy Wedding!
For more Romances on this theme, check out my Goodreads list: Married by Proxy.