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REVIEW: At the Bride Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker

book review I had the strangest reaction to this book. On the one hand, I really liked the voice and the interaction between the characters. On the other, I hated, loathed really, the setup and the silly situations in which the characters were placed to evoke conflict.

Gabriel Thurston Devine, the seventh duke of Wolverest, decides to hold a house party that will end with a ball announcing the engagement of his brother, Tristan, to some young society miss. Seven young society misses were invited to the house party to "audition" for the bride position. I kept thinking of Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory and envisioned 7 Veruca Salt characters stamping their feet as their father’s whipped through a number of candy bars to find the gold invite. Gabriel makes the deal with Tristan to beget the next generation of Wolverest’s because he was desirous of a perfect woman and knew that none existed.

The seventh, Madelyn Haywood, a niece of a baron who has a reputation for mishaps, does not want to be invited as she has no interest in any of the Wolverests. She scampers out of the ballroom and into the gardens in an attempt to evade the bearer of the invitation. Gabriel sees this interaction and goes down to the gardens to deliver the invitation himself. The main thrust of the book that this guy who demands perfection falls in love with the least perfect society girl is a fun one, but the execution relied on such ridiculous happenstances.

For example, when Madelyn first arrives at Gabriel’s estate, her hat blows off because she takes it off outside which apparently a society miss does not do. Then the wind carries Madelyn’s hat off and she chases after it, showing"her shapely calves, not to mention her knees." Another time, Madelyn is climbing out of her bedroom window using tied sheets as a rope during the middle of the day with her skirts rucked up and pinned into pants, showing more of her body to all and sundry.

But each time I was ready to give a big huff and put the book down, I got caught up with the writing itself. Madelyn, when she wasn’t forced to do crazy things, was really likeable. She had a tart tongue and a good mind.

Charlotte raised a skeptical brow before reading aloud. “His favorite color is red; his favorite fruit is strawberries-” Charlotte paused, her nose scrunched up as she squinted to read the next line. “- his favorite flower is the ‘Papodee-‘no, oh goodness I’ve forgotten the pronunciation. The Pahippo-‘no, that doesn’t sound right either- Oh! I’ve got it. The Paphiopedilum orchid.” Looking mightily pleased, Charlotte smiled briefly to herself, then her pale brows knitted in thought. “Whatever do you suppose that looks like?”

“I have no idea,” Madelyn commented with a grimace as she tried in vain to find a more comfortable sitting position. “But I’m willing to wager five young women will be wearing them in their hair at dinner this evening.”

Gabriel was a bit insufferable, but what do you expect from a duke? I particularly liked Gabriel’s sister and her romance with Lord Rothbury which must be the subject of a future book.   Lord Rothbury doesn’t particularly like Gabriel and Gabriel doesn’t particularly like Rothbury.   In fact, I pretty much liked anyone who gave Gabriel a hard time. I know I’ll read another book, I just hope that it’s not so filled with slap-stick antics.   C+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Gail Dayton
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:25:39

    Ew. Slapstick silliness… Do Not Want.

    I love clever dialog and contrasting characters, but silliness… Ewww.

    There’s an author who did a thing with triplet butlers who I thought went over the top with silliness, and I don’t read Katie McAlister any more because the 2 or 3 books I tried were all just too silly, (and I know others love her, but too much for me) so I’m thinking this one’s not for me either.

  2. vanessa jaye
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:01:26

    On the other hand…. I like silly (fer instance, McAllister’s NOBEL INTENTIONS and Sandra Hill’s The Very Virile Viking is on my keeper shelf). I have to be in the mood for it, though, and I think I am at the mo. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  3. Jay
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:23:52

    Oh see I liked this. I didn’t love it, but it certainly held my attention. If anything I wanted it to be more reality show-ish than it was. I kept waiting for the eliminations to begin. I guess since the author said upfront she got the idea from reality shows I just expected the book to be campy fun. And on that score, it delivered.

  4. KarLyn
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:16:12

    I enjoyed reading it, but wasn’t blown away. It was a bit silly, but not in the good Sandra Hill way (sorry Vanessa!). I agree with the C rating. It wasn’t a wall-banger, but it was also not a Loretta Chase or Kleypas either, not by a long shot.

  5. Maryann
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 21:00:48

    I loved this book! I enjoyed the starchy duke versus the klutzy heroine repartee. Certainly, people have their own tastes in books, but I am surprised to read that the reviewer on this web site only gave it a “C+”. I do not agree at all. I would have given it an A, B+ at the very least.

  6. Carol Zehner
    May 22, 2009 @ 18:46:03

    Olivia Parker , I must say I enjoyed your book so much. It made me laugh so much, and in this world today thats what we need. I was silly but in a good way. Please write more. Thanks, Carol

  7. Carol Zehner
    May 22, 2009 @ 18:52:06

    Dear Olivia Parker, Thank you so much for “At The Bride Hunt Ball. It was so funny and silly it was a joy to read. In this world today it was great to set down and laugh and enjoy something so good. And a few tears at end. I really had a wonderful time reading it. Thank You So Much, Carol Zehner

  8. Janet W
    Nov 20, 2009 @ 22:20:55

    I’m just starting it: thanks Jane, for reviewing it. Altho I doubt it will end up on my keeper shelf, Olivia Parker is worth watching. I thought there was a feel of early Julia Quinn. I’m not too far in yet but I’m interested to see how the plot unfolds.

  9. Tammy
    Apr 22, 2010 @ 18:52:34

    There are only 2 words to describe this book. Excellent and Amazing. I can’t wait for Lady Rosalind’s story to come out!

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