The Least Likely Bride
by Jane Feather, historical (2000)
Bantam, $6.50, ISBN 0-553-58068-X


Now, I haven't at all followed Jane Feather's books since the abysmal magic-charm trilogy thing. I appreciate this author's sometimes unconventional romances, but darn it, ending The Emerald Swan with a gory Viking raid and a death scene is just too morbid for me. But the other day I saw this nice cover of The Least Likely Bride and thought, "Gosh, is that a Depression-era romance? Something new - BUY!"

Nope, it's not a Depression era romance. It's a post-English Civil War romance.

What happens is that our heroine Olivia Granville is an adamant I'll never marry Greek scholar. Her father supports the Parliament and his family is now based on the Isle of Wright, where Daddy is sitting on paunchy King Charles to make sure the bad king will never cause trouble on England again.

While doing a The Sound Of Music opening scene, i.e. running down the white sand beaches - "The beach is al-iiiii-ve!" - she happens to run right off a cliff and splat! Serves her right, maybe next time she will make sure she looks where she is going. She wakes up naked in a pirate ship belonging to a Mr "Anthony", who may be a King Charles cahoot (or not). Anthony is an artist, a poet, and a physician, however, and soon Olivia is getting the sexual healing of her life.

But you know how it is. Politics and real life soon intrude. Oh, what to do?

Olivia is an unconventional heroine in that she knows exactly what she is doing and the consequences of having an affair with Anthony. But after a while, she becomes too controlled for me. I wish she will display some loss of control, some passion, some fire. Alas, not much luck there. Still, I like this woman's attitude, even if it may be absolutely out of touch with the Puritannical norms of her time.

But Anthony? Well... he's a nice man, a sensitive lover, but heck, he's supposed to be a pirate. He's such a bore. The pirate crew are like clean-cut Yale scholars, complete with the obligatory best buddy/partner. And this man keeps a volume of art in his private drawer. Fair enough, but these are sketches of naked men. And he's a sailor. I don't know - I won't feel easy if I'm Olivia, not if I'm marrying this guy for the long term anyway.

The Least Likely Bride isn't a bad read, but it is a surprisingly bloodless one. Where's the passion? Where's the loss of sensibility and changing of one's viewpoints through the eyes of a fool in love? These two treat love like a chess game, and after a while, I get bored. Never liked chess games anyway - people always complain I snore too loud and disturb their concentration.

Rating: 78


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