by Abby Gaines,
Book 1 The Parson's Daughters,
Love Inspired Historical, Dec 2011
The Earl’s Mistaken Bride is the most delightful Regency I’ve ever read. My senses tingled as I perused the back cover. Anticipation grew upon reading the front teaser blurb. And my imagination soared as I delved into a world where a season wasn’t related to the weather and a ton didn’t refer to a measurement. This is not my normal Old West fare, yet Abby Gaines drew me in with fascinating fleshed out characters trying to lead normal lives in a society most of us can’t even imagine.
My anticipation for this book stems from the fact that it’s along the lines of a mail-order bride or arranged marriage story where the groom and bride don’t meet until the wedding is imminent. They must learn to put aside petty grievances and become respectful partners under strenuous circumstances. What a way to start a marriage, but hopefully, love will follow.
However, The Earl’s Mistaken Bride differs from the above story lines in that the bride and groom know who they’re to marry and they both agree. Yet even with this knowledge, the groom is shocked when he lifts his new wife’s wedding veil. Surprise! She’s not the one he chose. Does this sound confusing? Well, let me explain…
Lord Marcus Brookstone’s besotted grandfather allowed the Spenford estates to fall into disrepair when he neglected his duty and put all his attention on his wife. Marcus’ father reversed the damages expounding to Marcus that love was their enemy. He made Marcus put aside his childhood friend, a common gamekeeper’s son, and instilled in him the theory of class distinction. As the future earl, Marcus was to set himself apart from everyone except those of his class. He was not to claim love, friendship and other vices, concentrating solely on unemotional pursuits pertaining to the Spenford estate. Above all, he must never let his deportment flag or do anything to incite the tiniest scandal.
Marcus did not want to marry lest he be tempted to fall in love with his wife. Besotted men make fools of themselves. They throw pride and deportment by the wayside and care not what others think of them. They forget who they are and everything they stand for. That is Marcus’s greatest fear.
There’s only one person he shows affection for and that’s his mother. He’s so stricken when it appears she may die, he makes a deal with God… Marcus will find a wife to give his mother peace and in return, God will heal her.
Who’s he going to marry? By rights, he should marry someone of equal birth, a woman of great beauty who looks and acts like a countess. But all the women in his circle think only of wealth and status… of spending their wealth to draw attention to themselves. Certainly they’d make demands on him. Maybe even tempt him into falling in love. And that would be the ruin of them all! Marcus cannot go that route.
Instead, he goes back to his country estate knowing the parish reverend has five virtuous daughters—a necessary trait for a countess—he remembers that two of them are great beauties. He can’t remember their names, but that is a minor detail and easy to discover. On the way through the village, he finds one of the reverend’s daughters fending off a suitor. She’s quite beautiful and Marcus is instantly attracted. If he has to look at a wife across the table, she may as well be comely. In reply to his query, she coyly says her name is Constance Somerton. She requests that he not report their meeting to her father because she’s not supposed to be down in the village. Marcus is taken with her flirtatious ways and promises not to say anything. Why would he? His problem is solved… she’s the perfect Countess of Spenford.
When the reverend asks Constance if she’s willing to marry the Earl, she thinks back to three years earlier when he helped her save a puppy in distress. She fell in love with him at the time and although she hasn’t seen him since, he obviously feels the same if he’s specifically asked for her hand. Elated that God has chosen to bless her for her faith in His guiding hand, she eagerly waits for her wedding day.
The time has come. The reverend has pronounced them man and wife. Giddy with excitement, Constance can barely contain herself yet she waits in breathless anticipation to look once more upon her husband’s handsome face. He moves closer to her. He grasps her veil. He lifts it over her head...
Surprised and confused, Marcus stares down at his new wife. She isn’t the girl he met down in the village at all. She’s plain and angular where only beauty will do. She looks nothing like a countess when being a proper countess counts for everything! And as they ride off in their coach toward their new life together, he leaves her huddled in a corner alone. Because there are two things that he’s sure of… first, he kept his part of the bargain, so his mother will live. And second, he doesn’t know what game his new wife is playing, but at least with her conniving nature and plain face, he isn’t in any danger of falling in love.
Poor misguided Marcus and Constance with her dashed dreams. This marriage is going to take a lot of work.
Read an excerpt…
Disclaimer: I did not get this book for free... I paid full price for it and believe it's worth every cent.