TRAPPED AT THE ALTAR: Unusual Plot, Characters & Settings


Trapped at the Altar Coverby Jane Feather
Pocket/Simon and Schuster
July 22, 2014
Mass-Market Paperback 400 pages/E-Book/Audio 11:47 Jill Tanner, narr.

E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own unless otherwise noted.


New York Times bestselling author and “consummate storyteller” (Romantic Times) Jane Feather introduces a sizzling new series that moves from the remote wilds of southwest England to the turbulent royal court, when a lovely young woman is forced into marriage in order to unite two families—and discovers a most unexpected passion. . .

Ariadne Carfax has vowed to be with the man she loves, Gabriel Fawcett. There’s just one obstacle. On his deathbed, Ari’s grandfather decrees that she marry her childhood friend Ivor Chalfont, thus forging a powerful alliance between the two warring families. Giving Ari no time to protest, the elders plan her wedding the next day, forcing her to follow through on the nuptials. Though she is fond of Ivor, Ari has no intention of consummating their marriage—until he kindles an intoxicating desire that she can’t ignore. Ivor has loved Ari for years, but he doesn’t want an unwilling wife. He wants Ari to ache with the same irresistible longing he feels. And if that’s the way to woo her into his bed and into their new life, he won’t rest until his new bride surrenders to true love.

I was confused by the setting of this story. When I saw the blurb it seemed like an historical romance, but once I began reading it felt at first like high-fantasy or alternate history/world. Then I thought it might be an historical based in the American West of the 1800s. It reminded me of a china cupboard my mother once had that had colonial, Meditteranean, and French Provincial styles all in one piece.

The feeling came from the Prologue wherein a young boy is carried through a mountain pass on horseback and delivered to another clan. It just didn’t feel British. And, that is probably because it is placed in 1684 during the Restoration (1660-1685) an unusual period for historical romance and in a remote, lawless valley in Somerset County, England and the court of Charles II. The time and place are different from the so much more common Regency or Victorian periods. I gather, from the book, that at this time whether one was Catholic or Protestant still seems to have mattered, but in a don’t-ask-don’t-tell fashion.  Fashion seems to have been remarkably luxe, possibly due to increased trade through the East India Company. The development of scientific thought and principles was on the rise. The story even included a hint of domination and submission.

The idea that during Cromwell’s time, the Interregnum, a pair of out of favor aristocratic families would become smugglers and robbers and escape all justice for at least twenty years seemed somewhat bizarre. But it was a period I do not know much about so perhaps the idea is normal.

The main characters of Ariadne and Ivor seem pragmatic and resigned. Their relationship with the maid, Tilly, is ambiguous — formal, or friendly, master and servant or confidant. But they seem to have been raised in a barn but learned how to behave in court too. I did not believe their personalities nor their thought processes. Ari is headstrong, young and stubborn. Ivor is bitter, stubborn but more understanding of what is at stake.

On the vocabulary front, the writer used the phrase Make no demur or Without demur a little too often.  But I did learn a new word: conge which is an unceremonial dismissal or rejection, and seems to be in relation to romantic relationships.

The book is interesting for a few reasons and the time period is chief among these. I would like to read more historical romance placed in different time periods I don’t know much about.  It strikes me that all those lacy sleeves and collars would be fun, and the tights! Hard to hide a male’s arousal in tights!  So, while I found the characters interesting though less than perfectly believable, I would give this book and series at least one more go.

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