Reviewed by May
Favorite quote: He was born to be a connoisseur of erections. He knew them all, the ones like slow bread dough rising, or those like wild Congreve rockets soaring, or others like a water douser’s stick pointing straight at the source. When called upon to do his duty by a woman, he had taught himself to coax an erection out of the thinnest wisp of sexual stimulation. But that skill had come later after Violet had gone out of his life.
Still none of those was a Violet Hammersley erection. He hadn’t recognized them at first as being uniquely inspired by her.
Once upon a time Violet and Lord Blackstone were a love match. Engaged to be married, in a relationship that had started when they were very young the couple was very happy and prepared to spend their lives together. That is, until a scandal ripped them apart and left them each broken hearted and feeling like the injured party.
A few years have passed, and now a dangerous situation demands that they once again play the besotted couple. Blackstone has no choice – working as an agent for the crown in order to pay off debts he is forced to take every assignment given to him- even if it means spending time with the one woman in London who doesn’t want anything to do with him. In order to get her brother back safely and with no alternatives Violet will do anything – even pose as Blackstone’s future bride once again.
The set up with international intrigue, possible kidnapping, and perhaps even a traitor to the crown all worked for me in forcing these two stubborn characters back together. I liked that they had a history, that he is titled and she is a wealthy banker’s daughter, and that they are getting a second chance at love. I also really liked that she didn’t rush to trust him or hope for a future early on.
But she was not nineteen. She knew where they were headed, and it was not towards happiness. She had learned that lesson, too, from him.
These two clearly had chemistry and they matched each other well. Violet is smart, good with numbers, and interested in non-feminine pursuits. Blackstone knows her true self, and appreciates her for who she is. He has a horrible reputation, but he knows the truth of it and has resigned himself to being misjudged by everyone – except when it comes to Violet. He is still very angry with her, as if the scandal that ripped them apart happened a week ago instead of the five years that had passed.
We are immediately given hints that all is not as it seems with him, and also we get to venture inside the club where he is living with fellow top secret spies. I found the camaraderie as well as the gentlemen themselves to be fascinating and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. Most of all, I liked the conversations early on between Blackstone and Violet. One of my favorite scenes was as Blackstone tells her what her wedding night would be like if she were to marry a particular ‘good’ man that seems to hang around her with the intention of someday marrying her:
He will swell a bit and squeeze your hand, and say ‘my dear’ and ‘my wife,’ as often as he can. He will describe the great projects that the two of you will do together as you scold the poor into propriety and thrift. With elaborate courtesy and formality he will come t you in your bedroom, modestly covered from his shins to his chin in a nightshirt and wrapper, uneasy but stoutly determined to do his duty as a husband and clergyman.”
“Stop it. You don’t know how it would be between me and my chosen husband.”
“But I know how it could be, Violet.” He dropped a kiss on the top of her head and left.
There are a lot of great elements in this book – the problem is that it never quite reached its potential. For one thing, as much as they talk about the passion that they had as young lovers (yes, lovers in every way) they are decidedly tame in this book. I expected there to be some heat to the story and instead it was a very modest book. While I do like more modest novels, I felt that given the history of these characters a really explosive bedroom scene would have been a wonderful way to add more emotional depth and sense of homecoming.
I’m not sure that could have saved it though – as one of my major problems with this book is Violet herself. She starts out so strong, so full of opinions and a woman I’d want to know. She is interested in banking, does a lot of charity work, and is devoted to her family. Not only that – but she was strong enough to break an engagement with Lord Blackstone when a portrait of him with his mistress surfaced and humiliated her.
Yet, by the end of the book I felt she was questioning her good works, and I questioned her intelligence because of how the scandal (and the truth/how she figures it all out) was handled. The author included a character that is working on a charity ball with Violet, and also wants to take Blackstone on as a lover. I did not think this character’s plot line or the character herself added anything to the tale. Instead, I found myself wondering how and why Violet ever got mixed up with her or why she listened to the woman at all. Indeed, Violet went from strong woman to silly girl in this story for me – and I did not like that at all.
I didn’t like the scandal either. Not only was it obvious, but because Blackstone truly loved Violet I felt his reactions and refusal to tell her the truth right away was a betrayal to her and showed big flaws in him as a character. He reminded me of a child throwing a tantrum – and that’s never good in a romance hero. We are not shown his family or given any real reason to get attached and care – and since this story did not have a lot of action it really needed strong emotion to engage me fully.
Ultimately, in spite of some interesting characters and a set up that initially sucked me right in, Blackstone’s Bride ended up being a bit of a let down and not at all the book I hoped it could be.