by Jane Feather, historical (2012)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-4526-5
An Unsuitable Bride has an amazing cover. Look at the woman's right arm - it's obviously boneless, stretchable, and bendable. Unfortunately, this is the most memorable thing about the book.
Jane Feather has come out with a most pleasant romance story that does not feature her usual cruel and lying heroes or a jaded portrayal of love. In fact, I have to check a few times to confirm that Jane Feather wrote this book. It's so... peaceful! Of course, peaceful doesn't necessarily mean amazing. Let me get into that later. First, the synopsis.
Thanks to her late father divorcing her mother and then dying before he could amend his will, Alexandra Douglas and her sister Sylvia are considered illegitimate and they find their father's money and everything else handed to the miserly relative Stephen. Furious at this miscarriage of justice, Alex does what every sane romance heroine would do: don a disguise and works as the "librarian" at her - now Stephen's - home Combe Abbey, where she will proceed to make sure that she will get the £20,000 that she believes is owed to her and her sister. Since secrecy is paramount as the consequences can be dire should she be unmasked, Alex writes regularly to her sister and Sybil writes back, her letters delivered right to Combe Abbey.
When she meets our handsome hero, Peregrine Sullivan, she expertly dodges discovery by babbling and generally acting flustered like a suspicious wretch. Good thing that Perry is intrigued by her, or else her cover will be blown. Just like how Stephen caught her showing off her expert skills at cards, and now has her dealing and playing at the table to entertain the guests. Nothing suspicious about that at all! It's wonderful that nobody catches on - Alex is so sneaky and smart like that. Everyone that meets her remarks about how she seems to be personally attached to the library that she is supposed to catalog, because Alex is really an expert in hiding her feelings. It's remarkable how she has not been recruited by the Crown to teach future generations of spies.
Perry has a dilemma. His uncle insists that he and his two brothers marry "fallen women" or be cut off from all the wonderful money. The other two brothers have found wives in actually good and even pure heroines who are just pulling some fake-whore/actress stunt to save the world, and now it's Perry's turn to put out in the name of money. Since he's a guy, he's allowed to do this without having to promise me that he needs the money to save the orphans of Timbuktu. At any rate, he is supposed to be this smart and intelligent guy, but in this story, he spends most of his time brooding and attending house parties while openly investigating the heroine that he claims to care for, even if this investigation costs her her job.
He wants to help Alex, but Alex, naturally refuses to let him do so because... I don't know, she is an independent woman or something. Naturally, the story proceeds to show me the increasingly hilarious train wreck that ensues as our heroine attempts to pull off her scheme while having barely enough brain cells to cross a road safely. In the end, the hero has to come to her rescue, so all her insistence on doing things for herself in the last three hundred plus pages has been nothing but a demonstration of rampant romance heroine stupidity.
I don't want to be rude, but bitch, puh-leese.
The writing is all over the place. Is this really Jane Feather's work? There is a bizarre rambling quality to the story, as the author often pulls me out of a scene by inserting irrelevant details that only clog up the scene. The main characters' past and current baggage are repeated so often that I can only wonder whether the author believes that I suffer from short-term memory. And then the pacing is uneven. Things are so slow for so long, but the last few chapters are basically a montage of our hero and heroine doing their tomfoolery on fast forward. I get the impression that the author was in a rush to finish this book.
At any rate, An Unsuitable Bride is not one of the author's better works, not by a long shot.
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