REVIEW: The Accidental Bride by Jane Walsh
Miss Grace Linfield has resigned herself to life as a lady’s companion as the only path to respectable security. At least it allows her to visit the beautiful seaside town of Inverley with her charge, Lady Edith. Passions flare when botanist Miss Thea Martin whirls into town —and into Grace’s bed for a scandalous night of passion.
Disaster looms when Lady Edith elopes with Thea’s brother. Prim-and-proper Grace and wildly outrageous Thea each wish it was anyone else by their side as they race after them to Gretna Green. In the midst of attempting to stop a wedding that will incur the wrath of both their families, they discover their passion for each other is too strong to resist.
A chance at a real relationship was the last thing either of them expected. When Grace and Thea return from Scotland, will the honeymoon be over? Or will love finally be in full bloom?
Dear Ms. Walsh,
From the blurb, I had the idea that this would be mainly a harum-scarum road trip to Gretna Green. That was only the half of it. What happened afterwards made the book for me.
I will confess that early in the story, before the dash for the Scottish border, I had a few moments when I debated whether or not I’d keep reading. Readers ought to know that this is a book that takes some liberties with strict historical accuracy. And I’m not talking about whether or not a sapphic relationship was possible. No, a few things that happened at Thea’s parents’ estate made me wince. I debated and then decided to push through a bit more and see what would happen.
The point where historical accuracy picked back up, the long carriage trip to Scotland won me over. I’ve read so many historical books that seem to believe that traveling across the length of England could be done in a few days that actually having a group of people need to slog along, being rattled around over potholes, sleeping in crowded inns, and weary beyond belief reeled me back into the story.
What occurred in Gretna Green was something I didn’t expect but gosh darn it if I didn’t like that, too. Thea and Grace know that what they have will never be acknowledged or legally “real” but I was right alongside them in their desire to believe. But with half the book still left, what would happen next?
What happens is a realistic examination of actually making a marriage work. Thea and Grace have different approaches to life. Thea lives off her impulsive actions and her response to most things is “screw you” I’ll do as I want. If she’s going to be hanged, it might as well be for a sheep as a lamb. Grace, meanwhile, has always had to watch her every action in order to fit in, not make waves, and keep her precarious station in life. Of course their ways of navigating their new relationship will be different. Of course they’re going to need to make a new way between them. The meat and potatoes of the story is really them learning how to talk to each other and let the other in. It’s the “ever after” of HEA.
They don’t always do the right thing, they sometimes need an outside opinion but they also realize that what they have – something that another couple they both know have found and that another sapphic woman wants – is rare and precious in their age and time. Finding love is one thing but keeping it going is another. Watching Grace and Thea work out how they will do this turned out to be a unusual book that I’m glad I kept reading past the historical things that initially niggled. B-
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