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Royal Bridesmaids by Stephanie Laurens
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Jul 15, 12

Read from June 26 to July 11, 2012

This is an anthology, available only as an ebook, that includes stories from the same three authors who produced last year’s Royal Weddings. This time, as the title implies, the central characters are not the central figure at the wedding but an attendant lady.

In “A Return Engagement” by Stephanie Laurens, the bridesmaid is Lady Nell Daughtry. Nell’s sister is marrying the Prince of Lautenberg, and since the women in the Vane family suffer from a curse that causes a case of nerves so severe they become runaway brides, Nell’s chief responsibility as bridesmaid is to see her sister is kept calm and steady. This role doesn’t leave much time for the development of the romance between Nell and Robert Knightley, friend to the Prince, an English diplomat, and the man Nell disappeared from Nell’s life before declaring himself. The story is slight, and the characters are not particularly interesting or appealing.

In “The Imposter Bride” by Gaelen Foley, there is a marriage of national convenience between the princess of some Mediterranean-like country that has been conquered and the crown prince of some Scandinavian-like country that did the conquering. Obviously, the princess is less conquered than her country because she runs away rather than marry the dour prince, leaving her bridesmaid, the intelligent, self-sacrificing Lady Minerva to take her place so that the treaty between the two nations is not threatened. The prince turns out to be not dour at all, Minerva is less intelligent than she is billed, the fiery-tempered brother of the disappearing princess reveals all, and the course of true love proves bumpy indeed before winding its way to the HEA. Despite the improbabilities that included an elephant and camels and gypsies, I liked Tor and Minerva, but I just kept getting distracted by geography.

In “Lord Lovedon’s Duel by Loretta Chase, bridesmaid Chloe Sharpe overhears a group of inebriated wedding guests sympathizing with the groom’s need to forgo a love match to marry for money. Since Chloe, tipsy from the wedding champagne, is the sister of the bride who is the subject of the gossip, she feels bound to avenge said sister’s honor. She focuses on Lord Lovedon, the worst offender, slaps him in the face with a glove and challenges him to a duel.

Clearly Chloe is not conventional maiden. Lovedon’s attention is captured. Perhaps his heart is too.

This is the best of the group. The exchanged letters setting up the duel and the dueling pistols alone make it worth reading. It’s froth, but it’s Loretta Chase, and so it’s delicious froth.

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