by Connie Brockway, historical (2011)
Montlake Romance, $11.95, ISBN 978-1612181448
The Other Guy's Bride is not only the story of the daughter of the main couple of As You Desire, it is also set in Egypt in the early 20th century. It's pretty decently action-packed, so if you are looking for a romantic road trip adventure typically associated with stories of this nature, both Ms Brockway and Montlake Romance want you to book your tickets as soon as possible. After all, this is the debut print book from Amazon's romance publishing arm, and even if they have denied three-fourths of the world from getting their hands on the legal digital version of this book, there is always the trade paperback version. Amazing sometimes how a dinosaur model like paper can overcome geographical restrictions when modern digital technology fails to do the same.
Anyway, the story. Ginesse Braxton, our heroine, has always wanted to prove to the world that she is as good as the rest of her family members when it comes to archeology. Her father is a famous tomb raider, her mother is an expert in deciphering dead languages, and her siblings are showing various talents in that field. Ginesse, however, is more infamous for being a Calamity Jane. Trouble seems to follow her everywhere she goes. Accidents, fires... if there is trouble, Ginesse tends to be at the heart of it.
Now, Ginesse thinks that she has stumbled upon the very opportunity she has been looking for to prove to the world that she is a Braxton through and through. She has discovered a major clue pointing to the location of the lost city of Zerzura. Still, she has no funds and it looks like going home to Cairo for a job interview is the only way to go. Another golden opportunity arises when her violently seasick fellow passenger on the ship bound to Cairo decides to disembark in Italy and make the rest of her way by rail. Since Mildred Whimpernell's destination is near the location where Zerzura may be located, Ginesse decides to pose as Mildred for the rest of the journey.
Our hero Jim Owens is charged by the man he owes his life to to escort Mildred, the man's fiancée, to him. The Sahara can be a dangerous place, after all, with bandits and what not, so a frail and meek woman needs all the protection she can get. Jim is taken aback, therefore, when "Mildred" turns out to be a rather outspoken and fascinating creature who is as intriguing as she is troublesome. What happens when he ends up falling for the other guy's bride?
The Other Guy's Bride definitely captures the spirit of As You Desire. Like the other book, this one pairs a feisty but rather naïve heroine with a charming scoundrel who has left a noble family to travel abroad and do... things... to make up for his feelings of inadequacies. There are plenty of humorous moments here, and since trouble follows Ginesse like bees to a flower, there is also no shortage of adventurous moments here. This book is an entertaining read from start to finish.
Only, the momentum of this story slows down as the story progresses, especially when Ginesse starts pulling that really tired "I let you do me up and down, but I will never marry you because you don't say those three magic words to me" stunt that eight out of ten heroines of historical romances tend to pull. Ginesse can be quite obnoxious in her often misguided attempts to prove that she is indeed a Miss Thing, and this stunt only pushes her from being only slightly annoying to being feisty in all the wrong ways. I'm also quite confused by Jim's motivations. So he has a terrible grandmother and he thinks that his younger half-brother should inherit instead of him. Fine, but does that drama necessarily justify not only faking his own death but also embarking on a career where he kills people and plunders tombs? I am the last person to have issues with a hero who isn't necessarily a goody-two-shoes, but all that "I hate my past, so I go kill people and cement my own suspicions that I am undeserving of affection!" angst seems to be melodrama for the sake of melodrama. What's wrong with just faking his own death and becoming a clerk in an office in Cairo? But I guess clerks don't make romantic heroes...
Make no mistake, I find that The Other Guy's Bride is a fun romp indeed, but, at times, it also feels somewhat contrived, with the characters doing what they do and being what they are more for the sake of conflict than anything else. This one is fun, but a part of me can't help feeling disappointed by how this book seems to lack that special something that could have made it a truly wonderful read.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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