by Margaret Moore, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29159-0
The Overlord's Bride seems like a standard marriage-of-convenience story at first, but it's slightly something more substantial than that thanks to the heroine Elizabeth Perronet and the hero Raymond D'Estienne. The latter has the thankless task of being yet another grumbly, scowly, arrogant hero jaded with women because of his faithless first wife et cetera, but at least he and Lizzie talk and have fun together.
I haven't read The Welshman's Bride, in which the heroine of that book elopes with the hero (I think), leaving Raymond D'Estienne high and dry. Lizzie is now Raymond's substitute bride, and while she is annoyed that no one is telling her anything about her hubby-to-be, she is determined to survive this. It's either this or another thirteen years in the convent (also known as the living hell years to Lizzie), and she will choose marriage over the convent anytime.
But nothing prepares her for a lousy wedding night, a surly bad-tempered, scarred, and sinister-sounding hubby, and the rumors that hubby has murdered his first wife. But nothing will get Lizzie down, except maybe this annoying tendency of Raymond to let her believe that he adored his late wife.
The plot is nothing to shout about - the usual bitch first wife thing, Lizzie doing some kiddie-charity, making the castle hospitable again, some bad guy out to cause trouble - nothing new or unexpected here. But I adore Lizzie and Raymond, while starting out like some ghastly caricature of all the macho alpha hubby stereotypes rolled in one, soon gets to me too. Their relationship has chemistry and pretty free from the usual bickerings or misunderstandings. Hence, TOB may not be groundbreakingly original, but it has enough fun and likeable characters in slow but pleasant relationship dynamics to make it an entertaining read.
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