by Elizabeth Thornton, historical (2006)
Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 0-553-58754-4
The Bachelor Trap has a greater emphasis on the mystery that the romance, which isn't really such bad thing in this instance as everything comes together pretty nicely on the whole.
Our heroine Marion Dane accompanies her two sisters to London as her vivacious younger sister Emily decides to dazzle London with her charms. Marion is the responsible type who mothers her sisters and believes that she will remain on the shelf. However, a tumble down the stairs literally throws her into the arms of newspaper owner Brand Hamilton. As it happens, Marion's aunt Edwina has written to Brand asking him to look into the disappearance of Edwina's sister about twenty years ago. Edwina believes that poor Hannah might have been murdered after all instead of vanishing after an elopement like everyone initially believed. She also believes that Marion might have seen the killer but deliberately suppressed the memory due to the poor child being terrified and all. Brand initially dismisses Emily's concerns as those of a sweet but dotty lady but when Marion starts having "accidents", Brand changes his tune.
The romance is pretty tepid, what with fake engagements and other predictable developments taking place on this front, but the main characters are quite likable on the whole. Brand is the illegitimate son of a Duke who will never inherit the wealth or, more importantly, the political cachet that our aspiring politician hero covets due to the fact that his parents were never married but Brand is not bitter at all about his situation. He is a hardworking ambitious person who looks forward instead of dwelling incessantly on his past and I like that. Marion is a proper and responsible heroine and while she can get a little on the perfect side at times, she has her own reasons to be the way she is and she's not bad at all.
The romance fizzles about two-thirds or so into the story due to lack of any significant internal conflict, but by then the mystery aspect of the story has taken a greater emphasis to make up for that. The mystery isn't too inventive or surprising but everything comes together nicely, if a little too neatly, in the end. I suspect that readers who like their heroes coming to the rescue like a knight in shining armor will be disappointed though since Brand doesn't do that here when Marion is in danger. That opportunity is given to Ash, the hero of the next book, so that he can tell everybody to go buy the upcoming book.
The Bachelor Trap isn't the most exciting or memorable historical romance I've read, but it's entertaining enough to make the cut where I am concerned.
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