To put it bluntly: Reese's Bride is awful. The first thing it does wrong is skip the part where the protagonists, Reese and Elizabeth, fall in love. They fell in love as youths, so after the eight-year separation during which Elizabeth marries another man and Reese goes away to war, when they meet again there's no need for them to fall in love again. It's assumed.
Reese and Beth do need to get reacquainted, but there are problems on that front too. Beth's adjustment to the new Reese is almost realistic. She compares the boy she knew and the man she meets again, and her feelings develop naturally. Reese, on the other hand...his thoughts all run along the lines of, "He couldn't fall in love with Elizabeth again - he could only lust after her!" He's always busy convincing himself that Elizabeth is a traitor, a mercenary, etc., and I guess we're supposed to assume from these thoughts that he really thinks the opposite? But I would have found it more believable if I'd seen him actually falling for her. Not just flip-flopping between cursing her and undressing her in his mind.
This is a little spoilerish (though it's all revealed early in the book): Elizabeth's horrible betrayal is that she was engaged to Reese (though not formally - her father had been opposed to the marriage and she just promised to bring him around) and then, after he went off to war, she married another man. If Elizabeth had actually made that choice, we'd have some real conflict in this novel. But she didn't. First of all, her father forced her to marry the earl of Aldridge - she fought him all the way. Aldridge seemed like a charming, handsome earl, but once they're married he turns out to be a total jerk. He's a wife-beater, mean to their son, and cruel in bed. Phew - I was worried Reese might have some competition! But we might still be wondering if Elizabeth tried hard enough to stay true to Reese, if there was anything more she could do. After all, she married Aldridge only a few months after Reese left. Well, set those fears to rest - she married Aldridge because she was pregnant with Reese's child.
So now we have a whole book where Reese is righteously angry at Elizabeth for...obeying her father in Victorian England and marrying in order to avoid bearing a bastard child. Where does Reese get off being angry? It ought to be the reverse. Elizabeth ought to be furious with him for abandoning her in her hour of need, for giving in to the temptation to have sex and not sticking around to make sure that there weren't any consequences. Admittedly, it takes a while for Reese to learn all the circumstances - but that doesn't change his opinion at all. He thinks Elizabeth is lying when she says she was forced to marry Aldridge, continues to believe she married him for his money, and he's furious when he finds out that she "denied" him his son.
To be perfectly frank, the strongest emotion Reese's Bride evoked in me was pity. Poor Elizabeth. The man she loves knocks her up and leaves the country so she's forced to marry someone who treats her horribly. Then, once her hated husband dies, she's stuck with a pair of in-laws eager to continue the reign of terror. When she finally builds up the courage to escape, she finds herself subjected to a new hell. Reese scorns her, insults her, seduces her and then reminds her that he feels no respect for her.
This book is so thoroughly dysfunctional that I had a hard time believing in any love connection at all. Reese's endless, totally unjust anger at Elizabeth is combined with, as I mentioned at the beginning, the assumption of a strong love between them. Taking love for granted while writing scene after scene where the hero hurts and disrespects the heroine does not add up to a stirring, romantic tale. I know at one point, while Elizabeth is cringing away from Reese's not-so-gentle advances, Reese says something like, "I've never forced a woman in my life, I'm not going to start with you." ... Wow, he's never committed the crime of rape? Be still my beating heart.