Anthea Bright has relocated to Haven, Kansas from the east to take a position as the small town's schoolteacher. She has fine polish that states she has grown up with money and manners. Her ways are gentle and yet she must be strong and strict to handle this bunch of midwestern children. Gabriel Jackson comes to the school one day to confront this new teacher that is obviously not qualified as such and finds that she is a lot more resilient than he would have guessed. As Gabriel begins to complain to Anthea about what his daughter should be taught, he discovers she has a fierce passion for her teaching and her students and he best not second-guess her.
The Bad Man's Bride was a satisfying read. It was a pleasing narrative and the leads are unique, likable and captivating characters. The story's pace faltered about halfway through the book and that is really the main reason for the four star rating rather than a five star. Although I enjoyed this story, I was not compelled to keep reading because it was a book that fascinated me. It didn't fall into that "couldn't put down" category. It was just a good, tame read.
The hero, Gabriel, although supposedly this bad man (thus the title), brings a bastard child, a nine year old girl into his house to raise as his own, when her mother, a prostitute, dies. This child is not Gabriel's. He was raised as a bastard himself and wants to protect this little girl who has no one to take care of her. He lets everyone assume it is his child who he has neglected for years until the mother died. This child is very dear and fragile. She adds so much to this story. Children in a romance novel usually don't add much to the story but this one does.
The sweet, proper heroine is not a virgin! She isn't the victim of some awful rape either. And it makes no difference to the hero. Their relationship does not fall into the same old romantic plot lines. Gabriel and Anthea get along very well and do not pick on each other or have disagreements. They both have some unspoken doubts concerning their relationship but these doubts were actually normal. They made sense under the circumstances. I guess I am saying that the book was actually believable all the way through!
This book is about the romance between Gabriel and Anthea. It has a couple of side plots that take up few pages. I love it when a romance novel is about a romance. Gabriel and Anthea are the primary focus of this tale and they spend a lot of time together. If you have read many of my reviews, you know that this is a really important facet to me about a romance novel. I want to see the romance relationship mature. I want to read pages of Gabriel and Anthea interacting. I was certainly not disappointed on that point.
The sensual scenes rate about a four out of five (see More About Me for rating guidelines). These scenes appear after the first half and really enhance the story line. You see genuine feelings developing between these two and there is depth to their relationship almost from the beginning. I do have to agree with one reviewer about the name of the book. The Bad Man's Bride is not really a representative title. The heroine could not be described as a bride for a good portion of the story. And, in my opinion, this man does not have the history to be considered a "bad man" by the town and doesn't behave like a "bad man" currently.
This is my first book to read by Susan Kay Law. I certainly look forward to working my way through her backlist.