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The Wayward Bride*
We meet Isla as she’s attempting to sneak out of the house to go for a ride. Her sister-in-law stops her because of fear of an impending storm, but later Isla sneaks out and does get trapped and lost when the snowstorm hits. Her brothers go in search of her and enlist the aid of Hugh, Lord Pierce, a neighbor. Hugh is the one who finds her, and he takes her back to his manor house to wait out the storm. She had been ostensibly riding out to the main road to check to see if her betrothed might be approaching, but she was also really wanting to pass by Hugh’s home, as she still hasn’t quite gotten over her feelings for him. As the book unfolds, it is clear that Hugh hasn’t gotten past their time together as well. Scandal has forced Isla’s betrothal to Sydney, whom she sees more like a brother. Meanwhile, on the road to Isla’s home, Sydney has gotten into a bad carriage accident and is getting care from a farmer who rescued him from the ditch he ended up in.
What will happen between Isla and Hugh? What will happen to Sydney?
I don’t know quite what to make of this book. I didn’t find any of the characters sympathetic, so I had a hard time getting into it. I found Hugh, who is supposed to be our straight hero, off-putting and creepy; he comes across as so harsh at the start. While he supposedly loves Isla, he doesn’t treat her in a gentlemanlike fashion while she is a guest in his home. Their supposed love and affection for each other did not come across as real; what was the basis for it? On a completely different note, it is a little too hard to believe that Isla would have had to stay in his house for so long. They had a sleigh, so why couldn’t she be returned?
The plot had too many complications. There wasn’t just a love triangle between Isla, Sydney, and Hugh. It was more like a love quintangle with the addition of Lucas and Juliana. The author seemed to parallel the two main couples’ storylines, with Hugh and Isla and Sydney and Lucas consummating their relationships around the same time.
While I don’t mind there being a gay romance plotline, something about it didn’t feel realistic to me. In his thoughts and reactions, Sydney didn’t come across like a man in a romance but more like a woman. I find myself wondering if a woman can genuinely write authentic gay romance without making one “the woman,” so to speak. Of course, too, given the times, an openly gay relationship was illegal, so it seems unlikely that Isla and others would so readily accept it. Also, there are two broken betrothals in this book, and back in those times, that was highly frowned upon. It seems odd to have not just one but two in this book.
The book had significant errors with grammar, punctuation, and usage. Commas seemed more problematic than usual in modern self-publish works. In fact, there were more commas than were needed, like in between phrases in a compound predicate.
I also didn’t think that the title was the best choice for this book; so much was going on, that “wayward bride” seemed the least of it!