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Gingerbread Bride*

Short Novella Surprisingly Good Read

While I do enjoy quick fiction reads, I find the short format of a novella to be one that appears to be hard to master by authors. Often, rather than writing a story that fits the format, the author feels the need to do an information dump to set up the story rather than let it naturally evolve. Also, there doesn’t often seem to be enough time to develop the characters or the plot fully. Worse, though, is when authors try to shoehorn a novel-length plot into a novella; this makes for more telling than showing, which detracts from enjoyment because we want to get involved with the characters’ emotions or plight. This is hard to do if we are just being told the story rather than shown it through the eyes of the characters. So, I found this book to be a pleasant surprise. We actually do learn some background about the characters very quickly, but it is done within the construct of the hero and heroine meeting again unexpectedly. So we genuinely see that backstory through the character’s eyes as they reminisce mentally when they see each other again. And these reminiscences had some delicious humor that I found highly amusing and which made me smile more than once. (I love to some of these silly words the author incorporated, like collywobbles, as that added to the fun.) The author managed to create two very different but strong characters whose interactions were pleasing to follow.

I didn’t think, though, that the book description accurately reflected the novella. Much of what was stated in the book blurb was actually what happened before the story began. I never like that. I think the book description should match the book. However, when I actually got into the novella, of course, I ended up enjoying the story and characters. The heroine has had a very different past than most heroines in historical romance. She has lived on her father’s ship since she was a child, and she only has now returned to England to live because of her father’s death. She is shipped off to one aunt, who has designs for her son to marry her because they want access to her inheritance. In running away from these machinations to see another aunt, she runs into the hero who just happens to be in the area (right around the time when she is very nearly set upon by ne’er-do-wells. He began working on her father’s ship as a young man, so they’ve been nearly lifelong friends. I loved some of the stories that were recounted about their childhoods. He was not only her rescuer and confidante, but he also taught her how to defend herself when needed. Because the heroine has always seen the hero through a child’s eyes, she does somewhat see him as a knight-in-shining-armor kind of man. So when they meet again as adults, will that turn into something more?

I don’t want to give away too much more away, but I so enjoyed watching the unfolding romance between the two characters. I love how the hero was so protective, even though the heroine could often take care of herself (because of all that he’d taught her earlier). But some rescues aren’t physical ones. I liked how the heroine was very independent-minded and intelligent. If you enjoy short Regency fiction where the heroine is just a little off the norm, you will most likely enjoy this book.