A Belated Bride
by Karen Hawkins, historical (2001)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81525-7


Arabella Hedley is a feitsy country lady taking care of her crumbling home after her daddy croaked and left their financial state in tatters. She has a silly brother who can't spell r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y if his ding dong depends on it, a cantankerous old coot and an earnest young lad working for her, and a hobby of overworking herself to death For The Sake Of The Family.

Lucien Devereaux, the Duke of Wexford, is a nobleman. He also works for Home Office - he is their Top Agent. He is now in Arabella's life as he covertly Investigates A Smuggling Ring Thing (#2 greatest threat to England's national security according to romance authors, #1 being that fat frog Nappy Bonaparte).

The stage is set for Mrs Giggles And Her Adventures in Clichéland.

A Belated Bride is cute. Cute and quaint. From the moment Arabella's carriage cause Lucien to fall off his horse to the many, many adventures of Lucien and Bella in Cute Calamityville, the humor flows like some bubbly stream of fizzy water. Nice. The characters behave the way they ought to behave according to the Rules of Cliché, and the whole romance hops merrily to its expected Dramatic Moment before our two lovers share one final kiss - ooh, this is the happy ending, lovelies! No unexpected excitement, no untoward plot twists to send sensitive deja-vu loving romance readers into cardiac arrest.

Fun, fizzy, delightfully sunny, and eminently forgettable (sorry, but I really can't remember so many different story titles, you know), A Belated Bride is the perfect lite read. I think I actually hop merrily to the kitchen for a root beer after I finish this story.

Now, if only it has a bit more ooomph, because really, while it is nice for a book to be nice and cute, nice and cute get lost in the deluge of very samey if nice and cute romances out there.

Rating: 79


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