Book 3 in the Bride Trilogy series
Author Kat Martin
Narrated by Anna Parker-Naples
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date May 23, 2017
Running time 9:41
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
After their strategic “marriage of commerce” three years ago, Rule quite forgot about Violet Griffin, the teenage heiress to a Boston manufacturing fortune. He simply spoke his vows, took over her father’s business, and returned to England to resume his usual pursuits: high-priced wine, high-stakes gambling, and highborn women.
Yet when Violet, now a sophisticated woman, unexpectedly appears at Rule’s London town house, husbandly duties no longer seem so odious—he can’t wait to take his stunning bride to their marriage bed. Violet, however, is not so easily led: She has her own ideas and is seeking an annulment to marry another. But as Rule attempts to win her over, someone else is determined to frame him for murder and keep him out of the way for good . . .
I was very conflicted on this book and did not want to write about it. I respect Kat Martin’s research, the cross-cultural aspect and the issues raised by abolitionism, and the way her heroine in this novel was intelligent and not a shrinking violet, but I despised her love interest who was just a noble with good business sense and drive.
Wealthy, good looking and the possessor of a courtesy title, Rule was respected by Violet’s father, an American armaments manufacturer, enough to contrive their marriage when Violet was just a teen with the proviso that they do not consummate until Violet is of age. Rule leaves Violet hours after their marriage and returns to London. She hears from him rarely over the next three years. And, when she shows up unexpectedly, to get an annulment, she discovers he has not told anyone about their marriage.
So, SUDDENLY, faced with the loss of her as a wife or the business he loses he suddenly wants her. And she wants an annulment to pursue a real marriage with another.
But, of course, she is fair and gives him a chance. And, the “other” she is interested in marrying is not exactly what he seems.
The story offers good research; I liked how the different property laws in the US and England are explained; If the marriage is not consummated he loses the business. In England it would already have been hos. In America, at the time, I guess, women were allowed to own property.
But what I did not like was coercive behavior from Rule, who I disliked from about three minutes into the book. He was a pig: mistresses who don’t hold his interest, and a typical Victorian male (not so different from a Regency male except the women was probably under more restrictions while the guy was free to do whatever he wanted). Divorce was still very hard to obtain and annulment was impossible once the marriage was consummate. Her goal is to get free and his is to consummate. She says no and he pushes over time. She’s nineteen and he is an older, more worldly man. With his good looks, charm and experience this young woman hasn’t a chance. Violet is strong, amazing really, but Rule turns her into a victim – Rule’s victim of seduction, her father’s or just the period of time. – but a victim. The anti-hero versus Violet’s hero is an interesting, if unbelievable, twist.
I don’t understand why we, that is women, keep writing this and making the coercive man attractive. Yes, it is just a novel, but it still sends a message that this is okay, that it’s romantic.
There are many business and moral variables, as well as plots, sub-plots and red herrings in the story. And that’s where it gets interesting.
Caroline, Violet’s cousin must be featured in the next book or was an end to tie up; otherwise her romance arc is extraneous.
Maybe the guy she wants isn’t what he’s cracked up to be, but the man she married isn’t either. The stretch is whether he’ll grow as a person. And, when he’s framed for murder even being the son and brother of a Duke won’t save him. It must be a humbling experience for the character.
As far as the narration: Parker-Naples does a great job with the accents but the emotional aspect felt off. She does an especially great job with Violet’s cousin, Caroline. With Violet, though, the narraction is stilted and a bit too breathy.
The upshot: Interesting historical period and issues, okay narration, but the coercive nature of Rule’s seduction is really annoying.