Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-23780-9
Historical Romance, 2010
A Bewitching Bride by the late Elizabeth Thornton is actually a historical romantic suspense, as it focuses more on the heroine being in danger than being undressed, but it also markets itself as a airy-fairy woo-woo romance with both the hero Gavin Hepburn and the heroine Kate Cameron have some kind of psychic powers. Not that these powers come in useful, they serve as plot devices, adaptable and changeable depending on the needs of the plot to get things going.
Gavin’s power, for example, serves as a convenient reason for him to decide that Kate Cameron, the BFF of the woman he nearly married in the past, as someone that needs saving so he decides to do just that. Kate has powers that serve only as an excuse for her to cling tightly to her secret even as she also tries to do stupid things in the name of making some kind of point. They end up compromised as a result, and have to marry. The usual “he really doesn’t love me, I know it, so I will do stupid things just because” stuff follows. All that psychic powers and Gavin still fumbles to protect Kate, and Kate still can’t get herself out of trouble, sheesh. To be fair, though, Kate makes it hard for Gavin to be competent because she’s another heroine by this author who treats someone trying to kill her numerous times as if she’s being inconvenienced by bad weather.
She loves to disobey orders and sneak out on her own, for example, often for the dumbest of reasons. For example, Kate loves to do charity stuff, because that’s the extent of her hobby, ambition, and personal wants and desires. Since she can’t go out as someone wants to kill her, Gavin decides to take her place one day. This drives Kate mad because how dare he! She is an independent woman of remarkable intelligence, so she’s going to sneak past the guards and the dog he has put in the place to show him that she will not be treated like she’s some dumb-dumb in danger. So there! Our heroine shows little fear or even any indication that she’s concerned about her safety. Once a while, the author will has Kate say things like, oh, she’s not underestimating the danger she faces, but the author then ruins the effect by having Kate run out to do something stupid anyway despite this “lack of underestimation”. Our heroine has zero personality aside from lacking common sense, loving to hog reasons to play the victim-martyr, and doing stupid things at the most inconvenient moments so that she’d need rescuing.
Our hero is boring – there’s little depth to him, and I still have no idea why he’d fall for this inconvenient baggage that he has decided to appoint himself the protector of. Gavin has his share of high-handed overbearing moments, but it’s hard to hold him against this when the heroine is doing her best to behave like a stubborn little child. More annoying is his insistence on keeping the heroine in the dark when it comes to several pertinent matters related to her circumstances, as this only enables the heroine’s tendency to make stupid counter-productive decisions. He ends up bringing out the worst from Kate, just as Kate aggravates him into being his worst, so in the end I have serious doubts about the longevity of these two’s happy ending. That includes longevity in the literal sense too, as I’m pretty sure Kate will one day walk into traffic just to make a point about how she is too smart to die in a traffic accident.
The suspense is not interesting because most of the drama comes from the heroine and the hero alternating in being a dumbass. The psychic powers feel like mere gimmicks to hide the fact that this story has very little going for it.
Given that A Bewitching Bride is the author’s final book, published shortly after her passing, I think it’s likely that this book was written under circumstances that would make it hard for anyone to come up with a well-written book. That’s understandable. But it still doesn’t change the fact that this one is still a dull and dreary mess.