Author: Anne Gracie
Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
The Devil Riders #5
Genre: Regency, Historical Romance
Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Eight years ago, Lieutenant Luke Ripton made a hasty wartime marriage-in-name-only to protect a young girl from a forced union and left her protected in a remote mountain convent. Now, Luke is Lord Ripton, but he has been unable to obtain an annulment. Which leaves him no choice but to collect a wife he doesn’t want.
For nearly a decade, Isabella has waited like a princess locked in a tower, dreaming of her handsome, dark-eyed prince. Her dreams are shattered when Luke reveals himself not as a prince, but an autocratic soldier, expecting her unquestioning obedience, which is something Isabella’s fiercely independent nature will not tolerate.
And while Luke and Isabella’s fiery personalities clash at every turn, they remain bound to their vows, ever expecting that the passionate fury they share could become passion of a different kind…
What Nima’s talking about:
When I saw the title of Anne Gracie’s Bride By Mistake, I have to admit that my first thought was of Deeanne Gist’s 2005 novel, A Bride Most Begrudging. Gist’s book is very loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Bride By Mistake does deal with issues of respect, obedience, and submissiveness, but bears no other resemblance to the earlier novel.
The Devil Riders series follows four of five best friends, Gabe, Harry, Rafe, Michael, and Luke, labeled in school as, “Wellington’s Angels or his Devil Riders, depending on who you talk to.” Bride by Mistake is the fifth installment and follows the last hold-out, the most haunted by his experience during England’s war with France. This is Luke’s story of recovery, redemption, and true love. The action in Luke’s story takes place almost exclusively in Spain with virtually no interaction between him and his friends back in England so it stands alone very nicely if you haven’t read the previous books.
Gracie’s novel splits the narration, vocal and internal, between Lieutenant, newly titled Lord, Luke Ripton and Spanish heiress Isabella Mercedes Sanchez y Vaillant Ripton. Luke begins the book as a haunted bad boy, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, with the secret heart of a gentleman–always duty-bound to do the right thing and protect the innocent. You just want to spank him, send him to bed…and then join him. Isabella has a fiery Spanish temper, but is duty-bound to her own priorities as well. Sparks fly between them when the pair’s priorities are in completely different directions and on opposing time-tables. They must consciously choose to split up, or come together and make it work.
I sat down “just to start” the Regency period historical romance and was over 100 pages in before I came out of my “book trance.” The movie played completely effortlessly in my head in full color with casting, costuming, and sets. (U.S. soccer player Carlos Bocanegra would do exceptionally well as Lord Ripton and wouldn’t you just love to see him in formalwear?) The action is quick paced and moves you quickly along, including the love scenes which are not crudely explicit or drawn out. Instead the story opts to focus on building the emotional intimacy between Luke and Bella. Likewise, the focus on relationships in the book pushes out most of what another author might have expanded into intense action scenes. Instead, Bride By Accident reads, very happily, like an Andrew Davies screenplay. There are tense moments, but very little bloodshed.
Luke’s change of complete disinterest in Bella to lusty attraction happened, perhaps, a little too quickly for me. Then again, lust tends to strike much quicker than love and respect. Those come with time and observation which the couple has in spades when Bella takes off after her father’s jewels and Luke’s sense of honor compels him to follow.
I also have to take some minor points off for a couple of unnecessary repetitions and a personal pet peeve, secret-keeping. I believe in foreshadowing. I believe in the right of characters to keep their own secrets. I have an issue with characters who tell us they have a secret and then hold it back solely for the sake of controlled story pacing. It’s a practice that feels forced to me, not a natural flow of the plot.
Overall, the book was an excellent read. There is a certain novel satisfaction in having a couple start the book already married. We know they’re supposed to be together, not just hope it. Bella makes the declaration, “Luke, however it happened, mistake or not, I made sacred vows to love you and honor you and I promise you I will never ever break them.” Awwww…. *contented sigh* With that security, watching their love build and grow is a delight, not a predictable or boring premise at all as it might have been in the hands of a less skilled author.
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)