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At eight years old, Olivia Parker wrote her first romance with a fat red marker. It made one's eyes hurt to read it, but it did have a tortured hero. Since then, she's dedicated her efforts to improving her craft (now using pencils) and divides her time among her love of writing, reading, and relaxing with her family. She currently resides in northern Ohio with her husband, three children, a border collie, and a cockatiel, who eats a worrisome amount of popcorn.
I always get excited to read a debut author -- a new talent, a fresh voice. And as a fan of reality TV, I was especially intrigued by Olivia Parker's At the Bride Hunt Ball as it has been called "a Regency version of The Bachelor".
Gabriel Devine, Duke of Wolverest, has no plans to marry. He expects nothing less than perfection in a wife and since such a lady doesn't exist, he is resigned to let his brother's future heir carry on the title. So, he comes up with a plan to host a Bride Hunt Ball in order to find a bride for his brother, Lord Tristan. During a dinner party hosted by the duke and his sister, Lady Rosalind, seven prospective brides are chosen and invited to stay a fortnight at Wolverest Castle in Yorkshire. While there, each young lady will do her best to win Lord Tristan's heart. One of the chosen seven is Miss Madelyn Haywood, who wants no part of the Bride Hunt Ball. She even goes to great lengths to avoid getting that coveted-by-many invitation by running away from the duke's solicitor. From a balcony above the garden, Gabriel spies the chase and takes it upon himself to mange the situation. However, when he approaches her hiding spot, Madelyn makes plain her feelings by plunking him in the forehead with a lemon.
Madelyn is a delightful heroine. She's clumsy and impulsive, but also practical and sensible. Despite being in her fourth season, she isn't opposed to marriage in general, just marriage to men who could care less for a woman's heart. Men like the Devine brothers. Men like Lord Rothbury, whose proposal she turned down the year before. Her fervent wish is to move back to her beloved childhood home in Yorkshire, Willowbrooke, and perhaps someday marry a nice man.Read more ›
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"At the Bride Hunt Ball" starts with a completely ridiculous premise (being on The Bachelor *today* is skeevy--I can't imagine it flying in Regency England) but Olivia Parker carries it off well, if not entirely plausibly. Several parts were romantic enough to bring a sting of tears to my eyes, but, unfortunately, Parker could not maintain that level of tension throughout. As previous reviewers mentioned, some dramatic plot threads and interesting character traits were never fully explored, and the transformation of Rothbury from a sinister ex-suitor to sympathetic ally was unconvincing. Nevertheless, I'd recommend it. It's rare to find a debut novel at this level. Most are, quite frankly, awful, but "Bride Hunt Ball" kept me reading until 1 in the morning.
That said, the lack of professionalism in producing this book was shocking and jarred me out of the story several times. Doesn't anyone proofread any more? Does everyone rely on spell-check? For example, "soul recipients" which should have read "sole recipients" (this was not a paranormal, so no one had a soul transplant, except perhaps Rothbury); "his ridged arm" which should have read "his rigid arm;" several incorrect uses of the word "sunk" where it should have read "sank;" and the worst--"his riding breeches, which fit snuggly" (it's "snugly," people!!! I don't think the Duke was wearing a Slanket or a baby carrier!).
Unfortunately, these amateur mistakes cheapened the novel and made its other missteps only more glaring. Ms. Parker--hire someone to proofread your galleys. Avon obviously doesn't care.
If you are looking for a book without annoying dangling plot lines, if you like books that are stand alone and not part of a 10 book series, if you like lots of laughs and plenty of romance, then At the Bride Hunt Ball is the book for you. I picked it up by chance at the bookstore and was pleasantly surprised. I really liked it. The premise was that eligible young ladies would be invited to a ball in order for the younger brother of the duke to pick himself a bride. One young lady wants an invitation so badly and another, our heroine Madelyn, doesn't. Naturally, they both end up at the ball and it is a lovely story. This book was a great book to read on a sunny afternoon. It was filled with pleasant people I wanted to read about and didn't have a lot of minuses. It had humor, a plausible plot, and was very readable. I was pleasantly surprised by this book as I had never heard of the author. I was a little disappointed to find out this was a debut book. I am looking forward to reading more from Olivia Parker and had hoped she had a backlist. But, I can wait--hopefully, Charlotte's story is next. I know who I would like her to end up with. We'll see if that's where the author is headed.
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The premise of this book is the reality show "The Bachelor" set in the Regency period. Seven carefully selected prospective brides are invited to a ducal estate to vie for the hand of the Duke of Wolverest's younger brother because the actual duke has sworn never to marry.
It's a really cute idea, and some of Ms. Parker's plot does work. But the writing is labored and the story is repetitious. How many times do we need to be told that Madelyn (our heroine) is attracted to Gabriel (the Duke), but is only at the Bride Hunt to protect her friend, Charlotte (obviously being set up to be the heroine of the follow-up novel), from heartbreak over her crush on Tristan (the younger brother)? I mean, we must go through that explanation at least every fourth page.
Besides the unintentional humor from Ms. Parker's inept handling of the English language (One terrific example is during a seduction scene: "Wearing only her silk stockings and garters, he stroked one of her thighs, urging her leg to ride high on his hip." The image of the Duke wearing stockings and garters as he rolls around on the floor with our heroine is making me giggle as I write this ), I found nothing amusing about this book. The author keeps telling us that Madelyn is clumsy, but there is nothing cute about her weaving around bumping and falling into things. If I was her doctor, I would suspect an inner ear infection.
The plot is the really clumsy character in this novel. The entire book seems like it is on the verge of being really meaty and interesting, and then it just falls short. For instance, we are told that the Duke doesn't want to marry because his father was mean to his mother, but we are shown no angst or hesitation at all when he feels an attraction toward Madelyn.Read more ›