by Connie Brockway, historical (2011, reissue)
Connie Brockway, $0.99, ISBN 978-0-9866872-8-0
The Laird's French Bride was first published in The Mammoth Book Of Scottish Romance earlier this year, but thanks to the vanguard of digital self-publishing facilities, author Connie Brockway is now letting everyone purchase the digital edition of her novella for only $0.99.
The title pretty much gives away the plot of this story. Rob Macalduie, the Laird of Barras, has faced many formidable enemies both on and off the battlefield, but he is now facing a different kind of challenge. His bride-to-be has deigned to pay his holdings a visit, no doubt to determine whether they are fit for her dainty French-raised toes. The King actually allows Jeanne decide whether she wants to go through with the marriage, hence Rob's current predicament. Rob is determined that everything will be perfect when Jeanne Forbes arrives. He was the one who set out to woo her by letter in order to unite their clans and bring about some peace for everyone, and their correspondences actually endeared her to him. The thing is, they had deliberately avoided describing themselves to each other, and now he is about to meet Jeanne for the first time. Somehow along the way, a case of mistaken identity occurs and things become a bit complicated.
Now, let's get the negative things out of the way first. I am reading the Smashwords edition of this story. This one has some very noticeable errors that actually pull me out of the story, such as wrong words being used ("like" instead of "likely" in one instance), awkward sentence constructions, and weird use of as well as absence of commas here and there. I'm normally oblivious to such things unless they are glaring, and here, they are indeed glaring. I can only wonder whether the author had accidentally uploaded an unedited version of her short story onto Smashwords.
On the bright side, the editing problems don't hinder my comprehension of the story. It's not exactly a glowing compliment, I know, but having read some self-published efforts that seemed to be written in a completely alien language, I am actually sincere in making my last statement. This is a very short story, so characterization is minimal and the romance takes place under an accelerated pace. Still, both characters display some nice chemistry. The heroine seems unnecessarily foolhardy and brash at times, but she is at least smart enough to have a big scary dog with her for protection.
To be honest, The Laird's French Bride is one of those stories that are too short to be evaluated effectively. All I can say is that it's a pretty fun read, although I probably won't remember much of it within the next few days. Ms Brockway may want to comb through her next self-published effort more thoroughly, though. I'm a fan, so I'm naturally predisposed to being a bit softer than wise when it comes to her books. Other readers may not be so forgiving.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
This book at Smashwords
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