(Castle Brides, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Regency propriety and Scottish boldness clash in this Regency romantic suspense flavored with a liberal dose of humor and a dash of inspiration.
Here’s a short blurb:
Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?
This was Collette Cameron’s debut novel and the first book in her Castle Brides series. I enjoyed it immensely.
I loved Ewan’s playful nature and wit but also how strong, protective, caring and loyal he is. It was also refreshing to see him in love with a reluctant Yvette rather than the more common scenario of the heroine hopelessly in love with the hero. I understood why his fear of losing Yvette compels him to conceal the truth about their marriage and I felt he genuinely thinks he is doing his best to protect Yvette from the ever-present danger. He also willingly acknowledges how much he regrets betraying Yvette’s trust and I could feel the uncertainty he endures not knowing what her decision might be regarding the future of their marriage.
Yvette had to deal with lot – the mysterious deaths of her parents, her equally mysterious riding accident and her step-brother’s attempted abductions, culminating in her escape to England. She certainly has spirit not to mention “a gun in her valise and a blade in her reticule“! Though well-educated, strong-willed and independent, she has an air of vulnerability. Her wealth is something of a millstone because she always fears that her suitors have more interest in her money than herself. She is determined to live her own life, marrying only for love to a husband of her choice. I understand why she is so wary of Ewan’s motives for entering into the “fake” betrothal, fears which only seem to be ratified when she discovers how Ewan has tricked her. I enjoyed seeing Yvette discover that her wealth need not be a burden but a way she could not only help Ewan’s people but also Ewan.
Ewan and Yvette are an engaging couple and their romance is funny, emotional, romantic and, at times, steamy. There is an undeniable chemistry between them and watching them negotiate the rocky patches in their relationship made for a pleasurable read. Here are a few of my favourite moments:
Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head , like a giant, drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once again.
Lowering himself until his head rested on the same pillow she slept upon, he lay watching her sleep. Scant inches separated their faces. She murmured something intelligible and scooted closer to him, then nestled her head in the crook of his arm. Her silky head fit perfectly beneath his chin. Wrapping her in his arms, he snuggled her soft body closer, until she was cocooned within his embrace.
She sucked in a sharp breath, tensing as the water level rose, announcing her husband’s presence. She waited, anticipating his touch. When it didn’t come, she dared to steal a look over her shoulder, His hair was lathered with soap. Grinning, he winked at her. A nuance of desire smoldered in his eyes.
Lifting her left hand, he slipped a sapphire ring on her finger. Four sapphires framed a ruby. “The sapphires reminded me of your eyes, cherie, one for each corner of the earth, and the ruby is my heart. There’s nowhere on earth you may go, you’ll not carry my heart with you. ‘Tis wholly, now, forever and always, yours.”
The secondary characters play an important role in the story and I love Ewan’s family…the way they interact with each other and their loyalty to Ewan. I particularly like Ewan’s eldest sister, the fiercely independent, breeches wearing, Adaira. I’m looking forward to reading “The Earl’s Enticement” to see what happens between Adaira and Yvette’s other step-brother, Roark, the Earl of Clarendon, particularly after their rather tense first meeting. I must mention the bombastic, busy-body Mrs Pettigrove, Yvette’s unwelcome companion for a time, who suffers from unfortunate “digestive disruptions”!
Ms Cameron maintains the suspense well as Ewan seeks to protect Yvette from some nasty villains and uncover the identity of the traitor within the Diplomatic Corps.
While I appreciate that Ms Cameron wanted to create authenticity with the use of the Scottish and French dialects, I just found it distracting. I couldn’t understand either why Ewan, a Scotsman, would continually use French endearments when talking to Yvette. This stopped me from giving the book a 4.5 star rating.
Despite this criticism, I did enjoy this story and certainly want to read more of Collette Cameron’s books.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read February 2015
Castle Brides series (click on the cover for more details):