Fiancés, villains and bears, Oh-My!
Throw in...2 battling brothers, 2 clashing cousins and 1 sensible suitor on a mad-dash carriage ride to the Scottish border; all the while being pursued by a furious father with a shoot first, ask questions later attitude, and a dastardly Duke out for blood...And you'll have a good idea of the seemingly insurmountable difficulties facing the hero and heroine of Shana Galen's newest book, BLACKTHORNE'S BRIDE.
This charmingly written and pleasingly madcap road-romance is the third book in Ms. Galen's highly entertaining Adventures in Matrimony series which includes--book #1, No Man's Bride and book #2, Good Groom Hunting (Misadventures in Matrimony)--but works very well as a stand alone novel.
The story takes the unadventurous heroine, the lovely Lady Madeleine Fullbright, the handsome and brash hero Jack Martingale (Marquess of Blackthorne), a diverse cast of supporting characters--and the reader--on one of the most fast paced, comical and delightfully unconventional elopements to Gretna Green that I have ever read.
Ms. Galen created an action packed ROMANTIC COMEDY that completely met--and exceeded--all of my expectations. Her story captured my attention from the beginning and happily kept me the turning pages, eager to find out just what she had in store for her characters around every bend. Also, their zany escapades and witty dialogue amused me to no end, but I never felt the author went overboard on the comedy. In fact, I felt Ms. Galen deftly blended the darker elements of the plot in with the humor, romance, and a fine amount of sexual tension.
And I really liked both of the main characters--yeah, THEY had a few flaws, but don't we all. <G> However, I thought their characterizations were compelling and very well developed. I thought Maddie was a very sympathetic character and never felt she came across as a spoiled little rich girl. She was good and kindhearted with strong protective instincts. And was always willing to reach out to help those hurt or in need--be it human or animal--which sometimes leads her to rush headlong into trouble and dangerous situations. Still, there was a charming innocence about her character that I found endearing. Maddie's fairly young now--only 18--and maybe a little naïve, and somewhat impulsive, but I think she has all the makings of a compassionate, generous, strong and confident woman. And I believe she's just the mate Jacks needs.
Jack Martingale is intelligent, virile, proud and arrogant, with a tendency to be a bit callous and somewhat domineering, but he is after all, a Marquess. And he's definitely an Alpha Hero, though absolutely not the abusive type. Jack shows the world a hard, tough exterior, but that just hides his insecurities. He's burdened with self-doubt and guilt-ridden by an incident that happened in his childhood. And though he feels the need to protect his loved ones, he's actually afraid he'll fail them. Jack falls into my reluctant hero category...because he's one of those men who are much more decent and honorable than they think they are, or for some reason want the world to know. I liked his character quite a bit.
Another reason this book works so well for me is that I've always enjoyed reading road-romance type stories--as the long journey really allows the author to show how the attraction, desire and passion between the characters develops. In this case it gave Maddie and Jack ample time to get to know each other, as well as, providing many opportunities for extremely intimate moments out of Regency society's strict and watchful eye. WELL DONE Ms. Galen!
If asked to choose, I'd say BLACKTHORNE'S BRIDE was my favorite book of the series, though I did enjoy ALL three books immensely. I'll definitely be looking forward to more from this very talented author.