Erin's Reviews > Captive Bride

Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee
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's review
May 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: galleys

I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that this story was better than I had expected. It's a romance, so it's about finding love (in this case, interracial love when that wasn't allowed), but it's also about finding friendship, acceptance, and a home.

Alan came to San Francisco to escape his past, and the dark memories which haunted him. It hasn't worked too well, but he keeps hoping that will change. He has, however, done well enough for himself that he runs his own store, and lives above it. His life changes when a beautiful Chinese girl ducks into his shop, obviously hiding from someone, though she doesn't know enough English to ask for help. Being a good guy, he hides her, and offers her a job as a housekeeper in exchange for a place to hide.

Huiann doesn't know what to make of this strange man. The language and culture barriers between them keep things tense and awkward, but it's clear to her early on that Alan is a good man. So she stays. And finds herself becoming more and more attracted to him as time goes on. It inevitably grows into a friendship, and then into something else entirely.

One of the biggest hurdles for Huiann and Alan is the language barrier; Huiann doesn't know English, and Alan doesn't know Mandarin. Nor does he know anything about her culture, though he tries to learn. I was a bit dubious at first, because the linguistic/cultural barrier problem is all too often botched, as authors use devices of convenience to rush the relationship. That didn't happen here; Huiann struggles to learn English, and Alan tries to help her. In fact, their inability to communicate with each other leads to one of my favorite scenes as they take advantage of each other's lack of understanding to confess difficult things to each other.

The romance was sweet, building slowly enough that it didn't feel like a whirlwind, yet never dragging so much that it felt slow. That is to say, it was well paced for the page count, and I feel like it was handled well enough. It's clear from early on that Alan is interested in Huiann, but it takes a while for her to become interested in him, which works.
Overall, I'd say it's earned a 4/5. It's not fine literature (most of what I read isn't) but it was a good read, with good writing, and an interesting plot. (Plus, they didn't completely botch San Francisco.) If you like historical romances, I'd suggest this one.

{Disclosure: I got a free review copy.}

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