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 eight years 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.
Anne Gracie is hands-down one of my favourite historical romance authors. While I prefer serious books (I find fluffy historical romance unbelievable, considering the realities of the time period), she somehow manages to write light and entertaining books that also take on serious issues and do them justice.
I’d previously read some reviews of Bride by Mistake that criticised the book for not taking place in England. It is still a Regency romance, and it features a titled English hero, but apparently some readers refuse to take two steps away from Almack’s. It is the reason the historical romance genre is currently seen as staid, repetitive and boring.
Turns out I loved the Spanish setting and the Spanish heroine, and it helped I read it only weeks before a return trip to Spain. Many of Gracie’s books take us on a bit of an adventure, and this was no exception.
This was shaping up to be a five star read until I hit the 90% mark. At that point the plot took leave of its senses, introduced the most outlandish coincidence, and dealt with a violent action scene that came totally out of the blue and was resolved far too fast. This immediately led to the return to England and the sugary sweet happy ending with bows tied upon bows.
It’s a pity, because everything up to that pointed to this being one of my best reads of the year.
Gracie’s heroes might be a bit stiff and confused in their manners, but they are always men with good hearts who go out of their way to do the right thing. The meeting and subsequent marriage was very touching, and Luke tried to be a good husband even when he didn’t want anything to do with his marriage. I liked him.
Isabella was a great heroine, too. There aren’t many authors who do the plain, overlooked heroine properly, but Gracie is one of them. There was so much to like about this heroine.
I would definitely recommend this book, and would tell readers to stop being so conservative in their historical romance reading. The first nine-tenths of the book are just wonderful and make for a great adventure. Try not to let the over-the-top ending ruin the fun.