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The Perfect Bride Paperback – September 28, 2015
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About the Author
Eileen Putman's love of Regency England has inspired her many research trips to Britain, France and other countries -- stepping on the very soil that Beau Brummell and his champagne-polished Hessians trod in such incomparable style.
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The one downside I found, however, was the ghost subplot. While I understand that it (somewhat)helped to set the scene for the castle's background, I found that it kind of took me away from the mood building up in the story itself. It's the only reason I didn't give this book 5 full stars. However for a free book, I was very pleased.
In any event, the hero, Simon Thornton, Earl of Sommersby is a soldier by career. He inherited the earldom when the previous earl, a second cousin, died without an heir. Simon's entire existence is consumed with doing his duty. He sees it as his sacred duty to marry and produce children, to ensure that the earldom carries one. He goes about choosing a bride in his usual logical, methodical manner and eventually chooses Felicity Biddle as his potential wife. I should point out that he makes this choice while wearing a disguise, pretending to be an impoverished cousin to the earl (himself, that is.) LOL
Amanda, Felicity, and Sir Thomas travel to Sommersby Castle in the company of "Mr. Thornton" (Simon in disguise) to meet the earl. The rest of the story unfolds while the parties are in residence at the earl's home...a castle that is haunted by the ghosts of King Edward II, his wife Queen Isabella, and her lover Sir Roger Mortimer. I read other reviews when readers didn't particularly care for the ghosts aspect of the story, and I must say that overall I agree.
For the most part the ghosts were just there, not adding anything to the story, but not really taking away from it--basically redundant-- but towards the end of the book the whole ghost aspect started to get a little distracting. I was tempted--but did not--to skip the pages with the dialogue between the ghosts as I just wanted to get back to what was happening between Simon and Amanda. Add to that Sir Thomas' preoccupation with his romantic issues, Felicity's budding romance with, ah, someone other than her fiancé, and Julian's--the man who almost ruined Amanda eight years earlier--obsession with finding some important family papers, and there was just too much interfering with Amanda and Simon's story.
Speaking of Julian, I'd just like to note that as the son of, and heir to, a Duke, his correct form of address, prior to inheriting the dukedom, would have been Lord Julian, not Mr.--or if his father had had a minor title such as earl or marquess, as the heir Julian would have carried the minor title as a courtesy one. Ms. Putman did such an excellent job researching the history of King Edward and his queen for the ghost aspect of the story, that I'm surprised she got the minor issue of titles incorrect--though to be fair, she does do an excellent job with Simon's title.
Anyhow, I wasn't really sure how to rate this book. Right up until around 70% of the book, I was enjoying it so much that I would have happily given it a solid 4 star review. But, when at just past the 70% mark, and the hero is still thinking to himself that "even if he wished to he could never take her to wife" about the heroine--because at her advanced age of twenty-nine, there was no guarantee she could have children (ah, the ignorance of that time period!)--I started to get irritated. I mean the book is close to the end for chrissake, and he's still not even considering the heroine as a potential wife?!...even after all that had occurred between them! It was annoying.
I should point out that at this time, Felicity had given him ample reason to cry off their engagement, and would have happily released him had he but indicated he wished to be free. Instead of requesting his freedom--or at least trying to find some way to effectuate it--he reaffirms his commitment...this at past 80% of the story. I was done with him at that point. Not only did Simon do nothing to try to bring around a relationship between himself and Amanda, the opposite in fact is true, he did everything to make sure one did not happen. It didn't help my mood that Amanda pretty much throws herself at him at one point. Only when Simon was forced--and I do mean FORCED--into a particular situation, did he even contemplate marrying Amanda. By this point I was beyond irritated and wished that Amanda would tell him to go take a flying leap off the highest cliff!
Nonetheless, from a technical point of view the book is well done, by which I mean, Ms. Putman has a wonderful writing style and the book is beautifully edited. Ms. Putman also has an obvious talent for weaving a story...I just didn't especially care for the direction in which she chose to take this particular story. I don't think the fact that I didn't particularly enjoy this book is in any way a negative reflection on Ms. Putnam's abilities as an author. After all, no author, no matter how brilliant, can write a book that will please every reader. I just don't think that's possible.
So, bottom line, after much internal debate, I decided that the only fair rating for this book--based on my enjoyment, the writing, etc.--is 3 1/2 stars. FYI, this is a clean romance...there is a pre-marital love scene, but with absolutely no details whatsoever. Happy reading!