The Bride Thief
by Jacquie D'Alessandro, historical (2002)
Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-23712-2


No matter how silly The Bride Thief can be, it makes me laugh. No, it more than makes me laugh, it makes me feel so good that it feels as if I have just gone through a ten-round TKO with Hugh Jackman. (Time for your primrose pills, dear - Mr G.) It's exhilarating, funny, and silly. So who cares about reason?

26-year old Samantha Briggeham - actually, she behaves like 16, but who cares? - is a bluestocking. She keeps frogs and snakes and rats in her pockets - I wonder what it will be like if a rat gets trapped in her girdles and whatever thingies ladies of those time wear under their skirts - and she prefers reading natural history to going to parties. Naturally, she's also supposedly the butt ugly one among her prettier younger sisters.

In despair, her loving momma pretty much betroths her to a serious and sober much older Major Wilshire. Sammie is aghast! She wants to marry for love! Oh, oh, oh! The loyal slave/servant of Eric Landsdowne, Earl of Wesley, overhears poor Sammie and takes pity. He will ask his boss to help the poor gal.

See, Eric is also the Bride Thief, black capes and half-masks and all. He will swoop in to rescue girls trapped in arranged marriages, much to the fury of fathers everywhere who band together and post a reward for his capture. And Mr Bride Thief here swoops in to rescue Sammie, only to learn that Sammie has gotten herself un-engaged without his help, thanks very much.

But too late. The kidnapping is done. But instead of being ruined forever, Sammie becomes a celebrity. Men start wooing that celebrity lass who has met the Bride Thief, every woman is envious, and every purist romance reader out there is shrieking, "This is ridiculous! Off with Ms D'Alessandro's head!" Eric, concerned, decides to play Protective Big Brother - only his vibrating Big Brother soon gives him other naughty ideas.

Yeah, yeah, Sammie and Eric are stereotypes. His parents and sister have unhappy marriages, now he doesn't believe in it. Sammie, bluestocking and nitwit all in one package, is the usual Regency heroine archetype, although it's refreshing to see a heroine in good terms with her mother for once. But these two, when they are together, wow. Sammie is like that cute, adorable underdog lass who eventually wins the football captain because she has brains and depths, you know. And Eric is like that football captain who falls for this dowdy nerd because she is so deep and smart. Okay, so it's not that deep, it's probably as deep as a Freddie Prinze, Jr flick, but what the heck, they are so cute together. The banters fly, the humor sparkles, and even when Sammie decides to have an affair with Eric (no marriage, of course) and Eric says no, I am charmed by how he says no. No, Sammie, we can't make love, because I respect you too much - that sort of thing you will never hear a football captain say.

Sweet! Altogether now: Awesome!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, stereotypes, unoriginal plot, blah blah blah. But I have fun. Eric and Sammie can wear Barney costumes for all I care, as long as they lay on the chemistry and funnies. The Bride Thief has stolen my heart as well as my faculties, and... and... I like it. Oh God.

Rating: 88


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