by Gayle Callen, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-82110-9
It's nice to read a romance novel that, for once, focuses on the hero and heroine falling in love instead of concentrating on external conflicts.
But if someone can tell me just what did the heroine here do that makes her so special to the hero, please let me know. All I see here is the hero's Madonna/Whore issues kicking in high gear. After the Slut Dead Wife of his, our too-eager-to-please brown cow must seem like the new Madonna to bear his Baby Jesus.
Also, if someone can plot out the exact details of the immensely convoluted plot of Earl Langston, heroine Gwyneth Hall's uncle, that has him forcing the hero Edmund Blackwell to marry paupered Gwyneth, please let me know too. Is the man for real? His plot is complicated and worse, it rests on the basis that the heroine will never give the hero a son because no women from her side has ever borned a son. Biology itself is against Langston from the start, and that's not taking into consideration how every romance heroine's first born, it seems, will always be a son (skip to the epilogue if you don't believe me). Biology and Romance Novel Law will doom the Earl's plan from the start.
Anyway, Gwyneth. She's a heroine, because she's penniless and she's marrying to save her family from poverty. She's also the too-eager to please, lovely, selfless heroine sort. I guess she'll be irresistible to Edmund after his dead Plot Device Wife, but I need to see why he will finally love her. In His Bride, the author fails to convince me at all.
Maybe that's because Gwyneth never actually does anything to assert herself in this story. Even in the penultimate moments of truth, it is the hero who makes the final call. Sure, she seduces her husband, but that scene catches me by surprise because until then, she's just a timid, too-eager to please doormat who will stop breathing if that's what she thinks will get her husband to share her bed. The final call, where the hero realizes that she's not in cahoots with her uncle, basically arises from her inaction as opposed to any genuine action on her part.
Maybe if somewhere in this story Gwyneth has stood up for herself and tell the hero to stop taking her for granted, I'll understand if that's why the hero falls in love with her. Or maybe if she actually does something pro-active. I'm thinking of a book with similar "marriage starts off wrongly" premise, Amanda Quick's Scandal, where the heroine pro-actively proves to the hero why he can trust her. Not so in this case. Apparently all it takes to make a husband trust you is to be placid, dull, quiet, and let him do some kinky on you once in a while. Not, if you ask me, a very romantic notion at all.
His Bride is well-written, but I don't understand the concept behind this story at all. What is the concept? Innocence Conquers All? The Brain Doesn't Live Here Anymore? Whatever it is, I don't understand the story. I find the heroine rather pitiable, and the whole story a rather baffling morality tale about the virtues of brown-cowed submissiveness. His Bride, aye, she's dull.
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