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REVIEW: The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway

Dear Ms. Brockway,

When I found out the news that this story is about Harry and Dizzy’s daughter, I was initially excited. Until I sat and thought for a minute and realized that it’s been so long since I read “As You Desire” that I have absolutely no recollection of it and its two principals at all. With that in mind, when I sat down to read “The Other Guy’s Bride,” I did it as if it’s a stand alone book about a bunch of people I’ve never encountered before which turned out to work just fine.

The Other Guy's Bride	Connie BrockwayGinesse Braxton is the eldest child and – so far – only daughter of famed Egyptologists. She’s been raised around the subject and in Egypt for most of her life and feels the burden of “proving herself” in a famous family. She also seems to attract trouble where ever she goes and whatever she does to the point that her exasperated parents finally sent her back to England where she’s finished a degree in ancient history at Cambridge. It’s while studying some ancient texts there that she came across clues that might lead her to the ancient lost city of Zerzura. This! she feels might be her redemption and chance to establish herself in the field of Egyptology – if only she can work out how to get there.

Taking her fate in her own hands, she sets off for Egypt where she meets a fellow passenger with a spectacular case of mal de mer who is traveling to Egypt to marry a British Army officer stationed at an outpost not far from where Ginesse feels her lost city might be found. The officer, Colonel Lord Pomfrey, is to send a troupe of soldiers, lead by a man he describes as a scoundrel, to escort his betrothed after she arrives in Cairo. But poor Mildred can’t take another minute of sea travel and in this, Ginesse sees her chance. Talking the young woman into disembarking and taking the long scenic route to Egypt by train – and I’m thinking it’s going to be a long trip from Italy around the Mediterranean to Egypt – Ginesse travels on under Mildred’s name where she meets Jim Owens who has been charged to bring Mildred to her fiance.

Jim is the scoundrel Pomfrey describes him as but he’s got quite a backstory which includes being indebted to Pomfrey which is something Jim is desperate to escape from. Doing travel duty across barren desert seems like a relatively easy way to pay it off until Jim starts to get to know his charge. She’s intelligent, willful, resourceful, can get into a scrape in the blink of an eye and seems to know a hell of a lot about a country she’s never set foot in. She’s also the most – to him – attractive woman he’s ever met and as the journey proceeds through various and assorted issues and problems, he’s finding that delivering another man’s bride might end up being the hardest thing he’s ever tried to do.

Before I really get started talking about the book, I have to get some name issues off my chest. Ginesse. At first glance I debated, “Hard G? Soft G? Hard G or soft G? How the hell do I mentally pronounce this? Finally I resolved on soft G because I didn’t want to think of drinking in an Irish pub the whole time I was reading the book. Then there are two secondary characters Magi and her nephew Haji. Sorry but the two names together sound like a comedy team. But I digress.

The first part of the book is interesting. I like the character set ups and watching Ginesse manage things to her own satisfaction. She’s supposed to be intelligent and she acts that way. She’s supposed to be inquisitive and imaginative and, again, that’s how she acts and what she does. Watching her overcome the obstacles in her path is fun. Jim isn’t really so much of a scoundrel as he is a man who’s had a tough road in life but who has fought to maintain his sense of self, to live life on his own terms and not be trapped by the circumstances of it. He has a deep sense of honor about this debt he owes Pomfrey and as Ginesse gets into various predicaments, I can almost see him grinding his teeth as he’ keeps on keeping on’ to get her where she’s supposed to go and off his hands.

But then comes the lusting. Lots of lusting. On into the desert and more lusting which then changes to standard “No, no we can’t do this. Wait, let me tilt my head so you can kiss my neck better. ” During this section I lost the feel for the Edwardian Egypt setting and felt I was trapped in any number of historical romance books I’ve read before.

Just as I was wondering if we’d ever get back to some interesting action, Ginesse and Jim are stupid with lust and let danger sneak up on them. Idiots. Now comes some good stuff with the Tuaregs and then! the rescue – which is sort of anticlimactic but okay if you want to downplay that I’ll go along. That is until the supremely stupid consummation scene. Yeah, he’s been worried and she’s been worried, for days, about what’s happening and going to happen but even with the slavers momentarily – momentarily! mind you – out of the picture that is NOT the time to give into their lust. And what happens then is more silly standard romance nonsense on Ginesse’s part – he didn’t say he loves me so I will deny my own love, turn him down and potentially face all the ruination that Jim has so thoughtfully laid out. WTF? I am so tired of this ” I won’t settle for 70 % if I think there’s 100% out there” romance heroine logic. He’s sure as hell not going to ever fall for you if you push him away and out of your life, is he? Sigh…

These push/pull interactions continue as everyone who needs to be there ends up at the army outpost then the mystery of the lost city of sorta solved, and along the way Ginesse discovers what is and really isn’t important to her about Egyptology. Now that is one part I feel is well done since the end of the book requires Ginesse to switch gears about what she wants from life. Often a romance heroine will – seemingly – toss out her life’s ambition once twue lurve hits her but here clues as to how she’s really feeling versus what she’s always felt she wants are laid out well enough that I can buy her ultimate decision regarding continuing the search for Zerzura. I also really like the humor and bantering dialogue from all – well most – of the characters throughout the book. And the fact that two characters – Mildred and Professor Tynesborough – don’t turn out anything like I initially thought they would.

My dislike of the fact that Ginesse won’t accept Jim’s many proposals until he says the magic three words is countered by the wonderful proposal he tenders to her once he realizes what the issue is. That whole scene in the cave as the sandstorm rages around them is wonderful – though I did wonder how the horse was handling the shirt over his eyes for the extended period of time. The slightly overdone romantic gestures back in Cairo and the Happy Family epilogue don’t light my fire but at least Jim now knows what his lady wants and he does deliver them.

So there are elements of the book I really do like while others leave me flat or with feelings of romance ennui. I think the book stands on its own merits and if readers either haven’t read “As You Desire” or if, like me, that book is a hazy, happy memory, I feel they’ll do just fine jumping into this one. Yeah for the Edwardian/Egyptian setting and thank you for the explanations of the liberties you took with things in the story and the fact that the facts you include in it don’t come off like a history lecture. B-

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

19 Comments

  1. Jane
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 14:31:32

    I wasn’t able to finish this book. I left after the reveal scene. For some reason, this story felt dated to me. The nineteen year old spitfire posing as someone else so she can prove a heretofore unknown discovery launches herself and others into danger. While the sparks and the dialogue were fun, I felt the chemistry was old which was odd because Brockway’s books have always seemed provocative in the past. All Through the Night with the lady thief and My Dearest Enemy with the female mill owner. At the time that they were published and even today, those stories weren’t ones often told.

    The Other Guy’s Bride seemed a retread of plots I’d read a dozen times before. Ginesse’s headstrong desire to prove herself at all costs resulted in predictable and dangerous consequences. Her refusal to reveal her deception (that she wasn’t the woman she was posing as) up to and including the consummation scene was disturbing as was Jim’s seemingly quick forgiveness.

    The description of Ginesse’s fake fiance as villianous seemed an easy way out of Jim’s dishonorable actions not to mention Ginesse’s carrying out the deception too long. Even Jim’s proclamations of being a bad, dishonorable man didn’t really ring true to me.

    Ginesse came off too immature to have a relationship and Jim too shallow in character. I laughed when Ginesse said “Ach!” Is she suddenly Scottish?

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  2. Jayne
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 15:06:55

    @Jane:

    The Other Guy’s Bride seemed a retread of plots I’d read a dozen times before.

    I can see this. In fact in places during the book, I did see this. But there was still enough I liked about it to finish it and – obviously – give it a B- grade. In this case, I think it served me well that it’s been a long, long time since I’ve read any of Brockway’s historicals. So the fact that it struck you as different from her provocative past books skipped right over me.

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  3. dri
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 15:34:23

    *sigh* I adore Connie Brockway — have all her readily available books — but christ I am so sick of the ‘exotic’ Egypt historical thing. Which is why I didn’t particularly enjoy Harry and Dizzy’s story either. Looks like I might be giving this one a miss.

    If anything, I really wish we could get a sequel to My Dearest Enemy cos man, it still bothers me what happened or didn’t happen to Francesca. She was such a marvellous character and she totally broke my heart. I really wanted a happy ending for her, so much so that it still troubles me when I think of Connie Brockway’s novels.

    Maybe I’ll just re-read the Bridal duo and The Ravishing One instead.

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  4. Jayne
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 15:50:13

    @dri: Well, this is being published by Amazon Montlake unless I’m totally getting this wrong. So maybe Brockway will eventually be going back and revisiting other past characters from her books. This is total guess work on my part.

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  5. willaful
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 16:37:42

    You summed up my feelings very well, except I’ve been so conflicted I haven’t even been able to come up with a grade, much less a review. Am plannning to reread/skim to have a better feel. I liked the beginning so much that the tired conflict/ending felt like a betrayal.

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  6. eggs
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 18:03:30

    I strongly dislike heroines who claim to be utterly in love with the hero, and yet refuse to accept the relationship the hero offers them because he does not experience love in the exact same way that she does. Maybe she ‘wants to be free’ and he needs to feel entwined, maybe she wants to hear ‘I love you’ ten times a day, and he feels very uncomfortable verbalizing his emotions. Whichever the case, these types of heroines will only accept the hero’s love after he promises to express his emotions for her in the future in the way she deems acceptable. Usually this involves a big groveling scene where the hero apologizes for the way he is and promises to change to meet her specifications.

    What makes me grind my teeth about this is that he’s still the exact same guy with the exact same feelings that she recently rejected – except now he’s forcing himself to behave the way she wants him to. On the inside, he’s still going to be suffering emotional discomfort while he ‘lets her be free’, or while he forces himself to verbalize his emotions even though it gives him the dry heaves. But now he can’t admit any of that to the heroine, because he promised to be a different person.

    The hero always needs to accept the heroine for who she is in order to love her, but for some reason it’s ok for heroines to hold out on the hero until he forces himself into the mold she wants him in. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read that end this way. Every time I read this ending, I always think their HEA is one with a use by date stamped on it’s arse. As soon as a read a book review that says ‘great groveling scene at the end’, I know it will not be the book for me.

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  7. Jayne
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 19:41:38

    @eggs: No, this totally is not the book for you. And you’ve given me a lot to think about in the grovel scene department. If it’s done just once and then they’re good do these work for you? Or just no groveling at all?

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  8. Jayne
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 19:43:07

    @willaful: I wasn’t sure if I was over reacting to the tired conflict part or not. I’ve sort of been going through romance ennui the past few weeks which has colored my perceptions a bit.

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  9. Darlynne
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 21:59:23

    Really, The Other Guy’s Bride? I thought this was a contemporary novel, so after reading the review, I’m left with a disconnect between the Edwardian era (1901-1910) and this etymology of “guy”:

    “fellow,” 1847, originally Amer.Eng.; earlier (1836) “grotesquely or poorly dressed person,” originally (1806).

    I’m not usually this picky and, yes, the timeline would fit, but that word as we understand it today just doesn’t fit this story. What am I missing?

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  10. Jayne
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 04:43:14

    @Darlynne: Well, it all ties in. The hero is the product of an American “Buccaneer” mother who married an English Duke. Their marriage was along the lines of Consuela Vanderbilt’s (miserable) and she left England, taking Jim with her. It’s not until years later that he returns to England (unwillingly) and once there, he’s looked down on and treated badly by just about everyone. Hence his desire to escape it all which is why he ends up in Egypt. So the word truly does apply to the way he’s viewed by the English.

    Brockway also includes some information about her word research and choices at the end of the novel.

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  11. meoskop
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 08:47:12

    I had different quibbles with the book but overall totally agree.

    @Jane – the perspective is shifted on the supposed fiance by the end. Otherwise, yes, this is pretty traditional. As glad as I was to see the tweak on the fiance, there’s another tweak that made me insane.

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  12. Maili
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:19:38

    @Darlynne and @Jayne: Yes, but if the English condemns Jim, they wouldn’t use the word ‘guy’, would they? (‘Guy’ was a male given name and not commonly used outwith that until recently. Up to then, ‘guy’ was used in reference to a tramp/homeless man who tried to look smart/dignified in his – mismatched and damaged/severely dirty – clothes and hat. It was a very cruel word in this sense.) It makes sense if the POV belongs to the Americans, but that’s not the case here, I feel.

    I thought the title was fine because Jim is an (I’m assuming) American.

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  13. Deb Kinnard
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 19:20:38

    I read Eggs’ point with interest. Why does romance seem to be about the man doing the changing? I’d love to read a book in which the heroine and the hero BOTH do some growing up. Perhaps even realize that in order to achieve what they both want, they might have to learn to compromise. I’m going back to read Austen for that!

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  14. eggs
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 23:45:54

    FWIW, you can easily see my problem with groveling scenes by swapping ‘she/her’ for ‘he/him’ in the following all too common sentiments: “Oh yeah, that was a great groveling scene when he crawled back to her, just begging her to take him back. You could really tell he felt utterly worthless without her. I love it when the hero totally changes himself to win the heroine’s love!”

    I’ve seen many discussions of ‘good groveling scenes’ on romance forums over the years, but I’m yet to see one where the groveling was done by the woman. Can you even imagine it?

    “Oh yeah, that was a great groveling scene when she crawled back to him, just begging him to take her back. You could really tell she felt utterly worthless without him. I love it when the heroine totally changes herself to win the hero’s love!”

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  15. Jane
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 09:45:29

    @Deb Kinnard I think it is because the woman’s power is emotional in many romance stories.

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  16. chris booklover
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 12:32:15

    @eggs: Exactly. If you do something wrong you should apologize. The other person may or may not accept your apology immediately, but that’s up to him or her. Groveling, which usually involves an extended and elaborate exercise in public humiliation and self-abasement, goes far beyond this. There’s something a bit disturbing about the fondness for this trope.

    I don’t think (judging from this and other reviews) that Connie Brockway’s latest is the most extreme example of this trope, but I’m not really motivated enough to read it in order to find out.

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  17. Rosie
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 23:25:41

    I really wanted to love this book, but I was disappointed. My biggest problem was that as the book went on, I liked Ginesse less and less. Brockway could tell me in Jim’s internal and external dialogue why he loved her, but I still did not get it. It’s a shame because I really liked Jim. Too bad his romantic gestures and rescues were wasted on Miss I’m Not Satisfied with You Saving My Life Repeatedly, Rocking My World, Proposing Repeatedly and Acting Like a Man in Love — You Have to Say It at the Appropriate Time or No Deal! All of her outrage over all of his proposals was super annoying. Oh well. Maybe I’ll go back and re-read some of my old Brockway favorites. Because when she’s good, she’s really good.

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  18. Jen X
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 22:20:17

    I am a big Harry & Dizzy fan. I loved “As You Desire” so I am hesitating on this one. I am always wary of sequels to beloved books no matter how loosely tied they are.

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  19. Jayne
    Nov 27, 2011 @ 07:25:22

    @Jen X: This is a direct sequel as Ginesse is their daughter but they are hardly in the story at all – if that helps you decide.

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