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Jane Feather

REVIEW:  Almost a Bride by Jane Feather

REVIEW: Almost a Bride by Jane Feather

Dear Ms. Feather:

0553587552.01.LZZZZZZZI admit to being totally befuddled at the title as it appears to have nothing to do with the book at all. After all, the heroine becomes a bride and a wife and is never an “almost” anything.

Jack Fortescu, Duke of St. Jules, ruins Frederick Lacey, Earl of Dunston, in a game of cards. Frederick bets everything, every possession, on one lasthand. Jack, of course, wins. Once Frederick loses, he shoots himself in the head. Jack’s desire to own everything of Lacey’s includes the possession of Frederick’s half sister, Arabella Lacey. She either accepts Jack’s proposal for marriage or will have to end up being a charity relation. She chooses marriage. I didn’t understand why marrying Arabella was so important until the marriage settlements are negotiated. Then, the reasoning behind it becomes very clear and I thought it made a lot of sense.

After they become married, Jack and Arabella go off to London. This is where the story really gets moving. You’ve always done a very good job of portraying people and their interactions in society, making the era alive. Almost a Bride is no exception. Feather provides detailed descriptions of clothing and society rules. Her characters act and speak (for the most part) as I would imagine characters of that era would act and speak. Jack had a very domineering and austere manner which befitted a duke – very Wulfric, in my opinion. The French Revolution plays an important role in the story and it wavered between feeling that it was well integrated (as a source of Jack’s anger toward Frederick) and ham fisted (i.e. Arabella conveniently becomes attached to assisting french emigrees).

The other thing that you excel at is the development of a romance between two adult individuals. Jack and Arabella are drawn to each other from the beginning but they are not in love. Their love grows as they interact. They hurt, they mistrust, and they learn from those mistakes. Jack is forthright in his arrangement with Arabella. He tells her that he has a mistress and has no intention of discarding her but he needs a wife to beget legitimate heirs. Arabella comes from an impeccable lineage. She enters the marriage with her eyes wide open. She actually bargains with Jack for a measure of financial independence as well as the right to lovers after the heirs are born.

Of course, it is a romance so Jack and Arabella fall in love and live happily ever after. The interaction between Arabella and the mistress bring the right amount of tension into the story. There is also a clever mirroring of Jack and Arabella’s situation in Arabella’s championing Princess Caroline in light of the much flaunted affair the Prince of Wales had with Lady Jersey.

I know that some readers felt that the hero was very cold, particularly in his treatment of Arabella and his mistress. I appreciated that he wasn’t going to demean anyone or make anyone out to be the villian. He had a longstanding liason with his mistress and he didn’t want her to suffer publicly because his affections were no longer engaged. I felt that the heroine understood and believed in his ultimate love for her even though Jack never utters those words. And once he marries Arabella, he never does visit his mistress’s bed again. He becomes too attached, almost against his will, to Arabella.

God dammit. He felt as if he’d been cut loose from his moorings. Lilly entranced him, he had always enjoyed her, and counted the price he paid in settling her gambling debts worth every penny. But not this afternoon. The brittle artifice that varnished their liaison had lost all allure.

All that Jack was capable of at the time he had met Arabella was a superficial and soulless relationship he had with Lilly, the mistress. Once meeting Arabella, his heart was touched in a way that he had not been and therefore the superficial began to show its wear, losing its glamour and its appeal.

It was the slow realization of both characters that their hearts were engaged that made this truly romantic for me. I did feel that Jack’s reluctance to clarify his feelings toward his mistress lingered a bit too long. B+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from various etailers.

Dear Author

REVIEW: A Wicked Gentleman by Jane Feather

Dear Ms. Feather:

The most recent issue plaguing your books have been the appeal of your heroes. One common theme for your heroes is that they often use the heroines for their own selfish motivations and then are seemingly “redeemed” by falling in love with the heroines as if the “love” word automatically excuses villainous behavior. Sometimes it works for me, as it did in Almost a Bride but not in Kissed by Shadows. A Wicked Gentleman fell somewhere in between. I will not re read it as I have Almost a Bride and I do not revile it like I did with Kissed by Shadows. It failed to evoke any type of strong response which is its real failure.

Harry, Viscount Bonham, works for the Crown as a spy. A piece of code embedded in an objct is taken and is purportedly at a house on Cavendish Square that is conveniently absent. After a few attempts at retrieval, the house suddenly becomes occupied making the capture of the spywork exponentially more difficult.

Lady Cornelia Dagenham has run off to England with her friends in order escape the country in which she has been immolated based on her role as the mother and guardian of the next Earl of Markby, Stephen, her five year old son. Cornelia longs for a more vibrant life but the purse strings are tightly held her son's trustees. Her friend, Liv Lacey, is left property by her great aunt and takes Cornelia and Cornelia's isster in law, Aurelia, to London.

Harry insinuates himself into the household, eventually seducing Cornelia, with the sole intent of obtaining the spypiece. Then, when the spypiece is obtained, Harry continues his affair with Cornelia for the pleasure of it. Cornelia cannot have a blemish on her reputation for one misstep and the Earl of Markby will remove Stevie from her care. When her children are endangered, Cornelia places their needs above her own pleasure.

When I was a young girl, I read the book, The First Violin by Jesse Fothergill, originally published in the 1870s. The heroine has a beautiful voice but is criticized that while technically proficient, she lacks emotive power that the great singers have. This is a technically proficient book by a master of the craft, but it failed to move me in anyway. Part of it could be because as a Regency set book with a spy hero, there is nothing fresh here. Part of it, I attribute to the lack of emotion from most of the characters, particularly Harry. You told me that these two loved each other and maybe Nell loved Harry, but I had real doubts about him. C.

Best regards,

Jane