Title: How to Lose a Bride in One Night
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: July 30, 2013Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
From the book:
He saved her life…
When Annalise Hadley is tossed over the side of her honeymoon barge, the newly minted duchess knows she’s been left for dead—for her husband’s only interest is in her vast dowry, not her muddied lineage. However, she didn’t count on a savior. Especially not an honorable, sinfully intriguing earl who will tempt her to risk everything—again.
Now he will seduce her heart and soul
A man with his own demons, Owen Crawford, the reclusive Earl of McDowell, is enchanted by the mysterious, courageous woman he rescued. He will help her heal, teach her to protect herself, and then send her away—so that she’ll never see he’s far from the hero she believes him to be.
But days and nights alone prove that some secrets are meant to be discovered…some desires are too powerful to resist…and some wounds can be healed only by love.
My review:Phew. Where to start? The beginning, I suppose...which, despite the blurb on the back of the book, absolutely threw me for a loop. The inherent evil Jordan creates in her villain is bone-chilling. I've only ever once had such a reaction of horror and fear (in a romance novel) as I did in the first few pages of this book.
I do not like feeling horrified and fearful when reading a romance novel - HOWEVER....
Such intense repulsion at the villain (the Duke of Bloodsworth) usually turns me away from a story pretty quickly, but Jordan paints such a lovely picture of hope, love, and kindness in Annalise that I wanted to root for her. I wanted to see her strengthen and find her happily ever after, and I really wanted to see what happened with the duke himself. In romances, members of the peerage (especially dukes) are very much exempt from the law. Murder would've been brushed off in some way, so I was beyond curious as to how Jordan was going to make him pay for his crimes.
So I read on...
Annalise is dumped overboard after her husband thinks he's killed her. Her body washes ashore, where Owen, Earl of MacDowell, finds her. He takes her to the nearest source of help - a wandering band of Gypsies. Annalise doesn't want anyone to know who she is, for fear that the duke will find her and finish off the job properly. She feigns amnesia and only "remembers" small details (such as her name, which she gives as "Anna").
Owen is an earl with loads of self-loathing. His non-replies to Annalise's persistent questions made me chuckle; his need-to-know nature is, no doubt, reminiscent of his work for the crown while he helped during the war. He sees Annalise as his salvation - if he could just help her get over whatever haunted her eyes, he could possibly look himself in the mirror someday and think he was worthy of happiness.
Annalise knows she will eventually want to come out of hiding (once she's all healed up, that is). She believes her family abandoned her - her father selling her to the highest bidder, for instance - and therefore believes herself all alone in the world. She enlists Owen's help in learning self-defense, but he never really gives it to her. (Disappointing.)
I did, however, really like the twist at the end, and the way in which Bloodsworth got his due. It was fitting, and the way in which it was written had me feeling as though I was in the room alongside Annalise.
After I finished the novel, two points stuck with me:
1.) The positive point: I was pleased with the ending. I won't given anything away, but let's just say that Annalise comes out the winner, socially.
2.) The negative point: When push came to shove, I really wanted Annalise to come at the duke with some of the techniques Owen was supposed to (but never did) teach her. I felt that would've rounded the story out so well, and wouldn't have left me feeling as though something was missing (i.e., by teaching her to defend herself, Owen actively helped Annalise to escape the duke's evil intentions).
Overall, I liked the idea of this novel. What was most surprising to me is that I liked the beginning of this novel - Jordan is a flawless writer, a master at her talent of eliciting such visceral reactions from black-and-white pages.
All in all, I give this novel 3.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this novel, but reader beware: This is NOT a light-hearted romance!
(Disclaimer: I was provided an digital copy from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)