Eva's Reviews > The Bashful Bride

The Bashful Bride by Vanessa Riley
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really liked it
bookshelves: advance-reader-copy

the bashful bride is not your standard regency fare. picking up the stories of london's 'blackamoor' population in the early nineteenth century, riley gives voice to people whose stories haven't been written. based on historical fact, you can see the meticulous research that builds the regency world her characters inhabit.

the story here is simple, ester croome is about to be married off by her father to a man she considers to be abhorrent. she doesn't like the way he treats women and knows that he is a philanderer even before they are to be married. when she accidentally runs into arthur bex, an actor who's golden voice she is in love with, he's leading an abolitionist meeting and planning to meet his possible future wife. he'd been exchanging letters via an advertisement, not knowing this was ester's friend. but ester is in more dire need of a husband that frederica, so arthur and ester decide to elope.

the drive to gretna greene and the prejudices they face on their journey are intricately detailed. arthur treats ester honorably, respectfully, he doesn't see the color of her skin first, he sees the person she is. and he is halfway in love with her. but he's also holding back secrets. he's not just plain arthur bex, he's also oliver arthur bexeley, nephew of a slave trader. given his abolitionist leanings, he doesn't want the truth about his past to be revealed. from the age of 6 he lived aboard his uncle's boat, and when he discovered his uncle throwing black men overboard to defraud his insurance, he turned on his uncle and testified against him. guaranteeing that he would be hung for his crimes. it's not a pretty story and is based on real events.

and these details are what make the book so fascinating to read. arthur is a complex, interesting character. i wish ester had been a little more interesting. i would have liked her to have a richer inner voice because it felt like there was too much black and white in her world and not enough shades of gray. i just found her stances to be so unyielding, big on ultimatums when a softer touch might have solved the problems she encounters in a more satisfying manner.

**the bashful bride will publish on may 28, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (amara) in exchange for my honest review.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 26, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 28, 2018 – Shelved
July 10, 2018 – Shelved as: advance-reader-copy

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