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REVIEW: Reluctant Bride by Joan Smith

Dear Ms. Smith,

I read this book years ago based on reviews and posts at the regency listserv and I loved it. I will say, however, that it’s not going to be for everyone. To begin with, you made it first person and secondly, it’s fairly realistic in it’s portrayal of the fact that even close family members don’t always get along. It also takes a little while to truly get going but readers who persevere past the first chapter or two will be richly rewarded.

reluctant bride joan smithElizabeth, Lizzie, Braden is a 25 year old spinster who’s been forced to think about selling a family heirloom, a diamond necklace from the reign of Elizabeth I, in order to pay the mortgage on the family estate. It’s not just the usual, “oh, I must sacrifice everything in order to save the family farm even though I’m not going to be living here anymore” that drives me nuts. She’s trying to secure a place to live for herself and her aunt. Driven to the brink of bankruptcy by bad estate managers, she decides to write to her uncle and take him up on his offer to buy the necklace, then take it to his estate for the sale.

Along the way, her carriage is forced off the road by a fast driving gentleman and she, her aunt and both carriages are damaged. After going to a nearby town’s inn, her aunt discovers that the diamond necklace is gone. Lizzie accuses the gentleman, who is proven innocent, but feeling that his honor is on the line, he decides to help the women track down who stole the necklace. And hence starts a whole book of fun.

Lizzie and Sir Edmund Blount don’t pull any punches in their opinions of each other or in what they say. With these two, it’s hate at first sight. He’s a tyrant and she’s a nag. But the power ratio between the two remains fairly even. This book has some great dialogue and both have chances to get some punches in.

After Edmund proposes to Lizzie she says,

“Next thing to go will be your freedom. What of your misogamy?”

“It got smashed to bits, along with my carriage wheel. I expect it is even now lying in a ditch outside of Devizes, gasping its last gasp. Poor devil.”

“I would make a perfectly wretched wife, Edmund. I am a nagging, foul-tempered harpy, who would keep you under cat’s paw.”

“That is exactly the sort of lady I require. A watering pot would not suit me. I recognized you for an archshrew when you advised me to find a strong-willed woman, provide her with a club, and marry her. I considered it one step shy of a proposal when you said it. Shall we go shopping for a club now? I will just remind you, however, that you cannot get my ring off, and your alternatives are to either lay legal claim to it, or have the finger removed by surgery. It is entirely up to you.”

This was one book I truly hated to see end. B+



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.


  1. JewelCourt
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 10:58:00

    This sounds good, but why no Kindle version? It looks like there’s an ebook version for other formats. I don’t like messing around with converting formats and sideloading and whatnot. I’m too lazy and impatient; I just want to read what I want to read NOW.

  2. Estara Swanberg
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 11:27:13

    I love quite a few of her books, but it does largely depend on my liking the characters – her dialogue is usually fun. I also like the fact that being part of Belgravia House Publishing means they can be got on sale at Fictionwise. Her books were some of my earliest buys as an ebook reader in the first place.

  3. Jayne
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 12:59:22

    @JewelCourt: Quite a few of her books are out at Belgrave House/Regency Reads as Estara mentions but there are some suprising ones that aren’t there. Or at Amazon.

  4. JewelCourt
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 13:03:21

    @Jayne: I’ll have to look for some of her other books. From the except you posted, it sounds as though I would like her voice.

  5. Jenny Schwartz
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 18:51:00

    Reluctant Bride was the first Joan Smith regency I read. I love it! Lizzie is so vibrant and Edmund is her match … I was utterly charmed.

  6. Loosheesh
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 16:18:04

    Sounds delightful! And it is now wishlisted, waiting on an equally delightful (*cough* 60% off *cough*) Fictionwise coupon ;-)

    FW has tons of her books; any other recs?

  7. Jayne
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 18:21:04

    @Loosheesh: You can click on her name in the tags section above to see all the ones we’ve reviewed here. There were also a lot of recs in the comments on my last review, “Sweet and Twenty.”

  8. Loosheesh
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 19:43:16

    @Jayne: Thanks! There are a good number of them to start with :)

  9. Loosheesh
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 14:00:17

    If anyone is looking to pick up some Joan Smith books from Fictionwise, there’s a new 55% off discount code for this weekend: 092112

    The expiry date is supposed to be Sep 24, but the code is usually good for a couple days past that.

  10. Susanna Ives
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 15:18:22

    I’ve always loved this book. Great review.

  11. Liz
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 18:35:05

    There is now a Kindle version of this book, seems like it was just published a couple of days ago on September 24th, 2012. Wonder if that is a coincidence or if the publisher had seen this post. Now it makes getting this book easier!

  12. Suzanne Allain
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 17:16:52

    Maybe I’ll have to try this one again. I read it years ago and it was one of the few Smiths I disliked. Sometimes I feel like her heroines are a little too know-it-all-ish and shrewish; this was one of those times.

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