Kicking off a new historical romance series is A Wicked Pursuit by Isabella Bradford, the first in the Breconridge Brothers series.
As the eldest son of a duke, Harry Fitzroy is expected to marry well and start producing heirs – sooner rather than later. He thinks he has found his match in Julia Wetherby, the most beautiful girl of the season and the ideal catch for an amorous duke. However, when he visits her at her country home intending to propose, a simple horse riding expedition turns disastrous. Harry falls from his borrowed horse, unconscious in the woods whilst Julia returns home for help.
What Harry finds when he awakes is the watchful gaze of Julia’s sister, Lady Augusta, who has nursed him since his accident and kept a careful vigil at his bedside. His leg is broken in two places, carefully strapped to a splint and leaving him bed-bound for the foreseeable future, as well as a prisoner in the Wetherby family home. However, Gus seems to be his only companion, as Julia has abandoned him completely in the face of his disability and returned to London for the remainder of the season.
Whilst nursing him back to health, and becoming increasingly infuriated at his demands for musicians and the like, Gus finds herself falling in love with Harry, and he with her. She doesn’t care about his leg, or that he may never walk again, as she loves his wit and humour as well as his charm. Although Gus is not the prettiest lady by far, Harry becomes enamoured with her plain beauty and her attentiveness to his condition, as she treats him normally and does not pity his bed-bound condition.
As the two get closer, Harry realises he was planning to marry the wrong sister, and sets his sights on Gus instead. She might doubt her abilities to become a duchess, but she is efficient in running a household and can cope with Harry’s temper far better than Julia would be able to. I really enjoyed watching the progression of their relationship, as they grow closer gradually, without the need for rushing. I also liked that Harry tries to make romantic gestures from his bed, such as organising a romantic meal for her without her loyal staff letting slip any details.
I think this was partly what made Harry such an interesting male lead, as he showed signs of tenderness and desire for a family, besides what was expected of him as his ducal duty. He frequently got frustrated with his condition, as he was dealing with the feeling of emasculation and the inability to carry out simple tasks which were so easy for him before. Throughout it all, he holds on to the hope that one day he will regain the use of his leg, remaining stubborn in his ways and sometimes offending Gus in the process. This was understandable given what he was used to, but I enjoyed seeing him humbled and brought down to Gus’s social level.
Similarly, I found Gus to be a pleasant heroine, as she was devoted to Harry and found herself falling in love with him all at once. She resented Julia for how she treated Harry, abandoning him in his hour of need for the frivolities of the city, but she becomes increasingly grateful for the opportunity to fall in love. She is reluctant to spend time with him at first, wary of what her servants might say in their gossip and infuriated by his arrogant manner. However, when she spends more time with him and sees how much he cares about her, she cannot bring herself to stay away from him, no matter how scandalous it might be.
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of this book, as the story flowed nicely and there was a perfect amount and pace of character development. The characters are given the space to grow together and to combat their own problems, with a smattering of sexy scenes thrown in for good measure. There were times when I thought more could have been going on in terms of drama, as it didn’t seem like there many threats to their relationship, or obstacles to be overcome, except for Harry’s injury. Nevertheless, I am thoroughly looking forward to reading the second book in the series, as Harry’s brothers were only mentioned in passing and I cannot wait to meet them. Verdict
An enthralling historical romance, this novel features two main characters that you can’t help but love, rooting for them to get together the whole way through. I enjoyed the fact that the book didn’t end with a wedding, as is so common in historical fiction, as it gave further depth to their relationship and more indication of a lasting future. The writing was strong and engaging, so I cannot wait to meet the second Breconridge brother. Rating: 4 Stars
A Wicked Pursuit by Isabella Bradford (Breconridge Brothers #1) Historical Romance Headline Eternal (25 Feb 2014) Paperback: 337 pages
Although Callie Hutton has written several romance books, this is her first foray into Historical Romance an...moreReviewed by Cass for www.bookchickcity.com
Although Callie Hutton has written several romance books, this is her first foray into Historical Romance and it was a lot of fun.
It’s set within Regency London Society, and the Earl of Coventry is being forced into a marriage with someone he has never met before. He’s a real catch, but after watching his own parents in a loveless marriage he has always secretly hoped to make his own love match. He turns up at his wedding drunk, belligerent and grumpy, makes his vows and then disappears back to London leaving behind his new wife at his Country Estate.
These first couple of chapters are very clever at drawing the Earl as a bit of a rake and someone who isn’t worth taking too seriously or even liking. Actually though, he was very well written so that the reader sort of feels his pain and almost forgives him for treating his new wife so badly. I really liked him as a character and rooted for him later in the book.
His new wife is the very lovely Lady Jane Grant, and she has also been forced into this marriage but she behaves a lot better than the Earl. When she realises that he’s hot footed it back to London she is at first upset and then she gets angry. After corresponding with a London friend she decides to head to London to stay with her friend and perhaps face the Earl. As Hell hath no fury, she also decides to go shopping and puts it all on his account!
Lady Jane is a really sweet character, she starts off vulnerable and then gets a lot more spirited as the book goes on so that eventually she’s no-ones fool. Again, I rooted for her throughout the whole book, I wanted her happy ending, but I also wanted her revenge.
The Earl is feeling rotten about his drunken marriage and can’t even remember what his bride looks like, but rather than doing anything about it, he continues his life in London and while out one night he spies a new lady about town who introduces herself as Lady Olivia, but is of course his ‘elusive wife’. He’s bewitched but she seems a bit frosty towards him which only makes him more interested. As his admiration for Lady Olivia grows, the Earl decides it’s pointless to stay married to someone he can’t even remember and tries to arrange an annulment, only no-one can find his wife to tell her.
I really enjoyed this book. In my experience I’ve had a few hits but more misses with historical romance so I was really pleasantly surprised to be hooked from the start by obviously good writing. It was satisfying to watch the Earl and Lady Olivia become closer as the story went on. The romance was sweet and I found myself smiling, and the eventual sex scene was a good one and didn’t feel rushed or unnecessary. There’s humour in watching the ‘matchmaking mama’s’ swarm around The Earl with their daughters and there’s tension with a kidnapping near the end.
I really enjoyed The Elusive Wife, it was well written with nice characters and good dialogue. I liked both main characters, especially Olivia and it was fun watching her make the Earl squirm. The romance was believable and sweet, even if the marriage circumstances weren’t! The supporting cast were suitably supportive and the ending was happy. All in all, I read it in an afternoon and was thoroughly satisfied. I hope the author continues writing historical romance because I’m sure I’d enjoy reading more.(less)
THE LADY MOST LIKELY is a collaborative effort between Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway, tel...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
THE LADY MOST LIKELY is a collaborative effort between Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway, telling three separate love stories within the same setting.
The book is a historical romance, set in 1817, and begins by setting the scene for each of the romances, with Hugh Dunne asking his sister Carolyn to construct a list of potential wives for him. This leads her to throw a dinner party at her country estate, inviting all eligible ladies (and some gentlemen) in her attempts at matchmaking.
This leads in to Julia Quinn’s section of the book, which tells the tale of Gwendolyn Passmore, who is supposedly the most beautiful and most coveted lady of the season. She is invited for Hugh, who demands the best, but she rejects the attention of men due to her shyness, and is still in mourning for her brother, Toby.
This changes when she meets Alec Darlington, Earl of Charters, who is Hugh’s best friend. He originally only speaks to her in order to steal her away from the men that would otherwise pay attention to his sister, Octavia, but soon becomes enamoured with her. This story frustrated me, as it began well and the characters seemed to be a good match for each other. However, their love is almost instantaneous which immediately makes it seem a bit ridiculous, and the way in which Alec proposes is not at all respectable.
After Quinn’s story, which removes Gwendolyn from Hugh’s list, we move onto Eloisa James’ tale. This one was probably my favourite of the three, if I had to pick one, and begins with a scene set 4 years prior to the dinner party. Our couple this time is the fiery Kate Peyton and her love interest Neill Oakes, who were once neighbours and childhood friends. She has loved him since adolescence, and our flashback scene shows her first kiss, when she made a move on Neill. He claimed she was too young at 16, and told her he was going away to become a Captain in the army, and to move on with her life.
Four years later they are reunited at the party, and it appears both have matured with age whilst keeping their fiery tempers. Kate means to be angry with him after his long absence, but it is clear that both still love each other and it is up to Neill to win her heart. I liked this story better than the other two as the love wasn’t immediate, and their relationship seemed stronger as they both knew each other so well. Although I will point out that I didn’t like Oakes’ protectiveness over Kate, despite it being justified by the writer.
Our last story by Connie Brockway finally tells the tale of Hugh Dunne, who has now lost two potential wives to other gentlemen. Hugh is, quite frankly, a brute of a man, who prefers horses to women as he trains Arabian stallions. He is only looking for a wife as he had a near-fatal horse riding accident and has realised he needs an heir for the Earldom of Briarly. When composing the list of eligible women at the beginning of the book it is clear who he will marry, as his sister’s best friend, Georgina Sorrel, is obviously the woman he is interested in.
In contrast to Hugh, Georgina appears to be a gentle widow, as her husband Richard died a few years previously and she has sworn never to marry again. This oath to never marry is soon turned around by Hugh, and despite their chemistry I felt that Georgina could have had a stronger character. This story is another case of them realising how much they love each other after being childhood friends, with yet another instantaneous proposal.
I had high hopes for THE LADY MOST LIKELY, but I felt really let down by it as the romances had little substance to them, and the characters weren’t interesting and did nothing unexpected. I also need to take a moment to comment on the quality of the writing, as some of the description made me cringe. Here is an example of Quinn’s description:
He kissed her again, and then again, in what he was certain was the longest, deepest, most exquisite kiss in history. It was the stuff of legend, of song. Somewhere, he thought, poets were weeping. No verse could rival this single, perfect kiss.
And now an example of James’:
The casual, unconscious sway of her hips, the silvery laughter, the elegant brow that arched so … archly.
Aside from this disappointing display of description, I didn’t like any of the male protagonists of the stories, as they were all too sex obsessed and take advantage of the women before they propose. For a historical novel this seems scandalous at least, as the women barely seemed to object despite the instruction they would have received from their mothers in such matters. This again detracts from the value of love, as it suggests all have merely been seduced into agreeing the proposal. I don’t feel that this book represents any of the authors well, but having never read anything by them I can’t comment on whether this is typical of their novels. However, it doesn’t leave me very hopeful about picking up another of their books.
This book is fine if you just want to read a series of fluffy love stories, but the characters weren’t particularly deep or meaningful, and the love was too instantaneous to be believable. Some of the descriptions were cringe worthy and the males were a little too sex obsessed for my liking, as I thought they all took advantage of their women. This collaboration doesn’t make me want to read anything by either of these authors, which is a shame as I had high hopes for this book.(less)