Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Review: The Bride Insists - Jane Ashford*

When governess Clare Greenough learns she's inherited a fortune, the good news comes with a catch: it will be held by her cousin until Clare can find a husband. 
To stave off ruin, Jamie Boleigh, the seventh Baron of Trehearth, agrees to marry Clare under the condition that she keeps the money, a provision he hopes to overturn. Their passionate relationship becomes a battle of wills. 
When the cousin tricks Jamie into betraying his wife, he'll have to prove the truth or lose her forever.

Recently I've been craving a good historical romance to offset all this contemporary romance I've been reading. I needed some rich and sumptuous dresses and a man in breeches to lighten up my life, but don't we all?

Jane Ashford is a new author for me and I think we're going to get along famously, her writing style easily reflects all that is lavish about her setting and instantly transports you into the era.

The plot of The Bride Insists is unusual and a bit, well, domestic. Clare, on coming in to a surprising fortune, decides that she wants to control her own life for once. Her unexpected windfall is in the hands of her scheming cousin until she marries, at which point control will pass to her husband, but she seizes this as her chance. Clare decides to go hunting for a husband, an impoverished husband who needs the money to restore his estate, a husband that won't mind entering a legal contract stipulating that the money remains in Clare's control. Historically this isn't unprecedented, although it still remains highly unusual and an intriguing and potential filled plot.

However, Ashford's novel is altogether a bit too plodding for me. The first three quarters of the book detail their marriage and domestic life, with a few martial disagreements thrown in for added spice, and the plot doesn't really begin to pick up until about 73% the way through (according to my Kindle). Whilst this wouldn't normally bother me I think that Ashford introduces too many voices during this part of the book so we don't really get to see the fuller picture. Additionally, for all the book is a romance there are very little romantic goings on. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of steamy scenes but a distinct lack of the more everyday romance that I'd expect in such a domestic setting.

Clare and Jamie's relationship is rife with misunderstanding that can be frustrating to the reader. Jamie in particular is bound to cause some irritation, although I loved the historical accuracy of his opinions and actions, annoying as they were. For all that I think too many voices were introduced in the short space of the novel I really enjoyed the side plot involving Clare's hired companion, Selene.

Maybe having the central couple named Jamie and Clare gave me too high an expectation for the romance of the novel. Whilst I did love the rich detail of Ashford's writing the plot was somewhat lacking and the addition of surprise characters gave the novel a crowded and rushed feel. Ashford's books do hold a lot of interest for me and I love her attention to detail and historical accuracy,  I will definitely be going back to discover more of her work but The Bride Insists was a book that I wanted to love and just couldn't.

*ARC copy received from Netgalley in return for an honest review

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