by Lisa Cach, historical/paranormal (1999)
LoveSpell, $4.99, ISBN 0-505-52342-6
I have no idea what to expect when I first open The Changeling Bride to page one. The back story reads like a marriage-of-convenience story while the spine classifies The Changeling Bride as a time travel. But to my pleasant surprise, The Changeling Bride is a pleasant story of magic and romance.
Wilhelmina March lives a lonely life. It is testament to the author's skill that I go Poor thing instead of snorting at this woman. She goes about her life feeling sorry for herself and wishing for some nice man to sweep her off her feet. When she helps an old woman on the street, she passes Wilhemina a paper marked GOOD FOR ONE FREE HUSBAND. Oooh-kay. She wishes for one, and next thing you know, the faeries have put her in 1790 Eleanor, a spoiled and pampered wealthy Cit's daughter who has just passed away from pneumonia.
Wilhelmina/Eleanor - okay, let's just call her Elle - is at first disoriented and not at all happy. Especially when Elle is about to marry bankrupt Henry Trevalyan, Earl of Allsbrook, who needs Elle's money to repair his holdings.
Henry knows that Elle is against the marriage, but he hopes that they could at least have a pleasant, agreeable life together. He is puzzled when this newly-recovered Elle starts displaying traits very different from the pre-pneumonia Elle. Heck, she even speaks different.
They soon fall in love, but Elle would have to make a decision. Stay or go back?
First off, bravo to the author for creating one of the most interesting plots I've read in weeks. Thank you! It pulls me out of a slump. Elle really faces a lot of problems adjusting. How does a woman handle her period in the 18th century? How about birth control? Oh, those blasted corsets! (This woman can also create birth control thingies from scratch. My admirations.)
And I do adore Henry, who is not only a kind man, he also is intelligent yet down-to-earth enough to yearn for a life of compromise and bliss. So what if the marriage is arranged out of necessity on his part and a yearning for a title on her father's part? He is willing to be kind, be a good husband, and make the best of things. What a wonderful man.
Hence he is puzzled when his wife starts demanding birth control. But he remains nice and kind and simply lovable through and through that I am halfway in love with him myself.
But I have some quibbles about The Changeling Bride. Thing is, Elle is more preoccupied with trying to get back to the present day or adjusting to life in the 1790s. Hence, the development of the relationship between Elle and Henry sometimes get shoved to the sides. Henry's realization that he loves Elle seems abrupt and out-of-the-blue. If only the author has padded a few more chapters that give these two people more quiet times together.
And Elle. I know that she is not thinking exactly straight - who would in her shoes? - but I get really annoyed when she starts acting like the most frigid woman on earth. Yes, there's the danger of not practicing birth control, but her insistence on her torrid boinking with Henry happening when she is "not being herself" is annoying. I also don't see why she has to blab to Henry that she isn't Eleanor. It's not as if she is under any suspicions, and she really should stop making apologies for being a sensual woman.
But all in all, The Changeling Bride is a great read. Think of it as an interesting trip back to the 1790s to meet a hunk that is to die-for.
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