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It’s her wedding day and there is no groom in sight. But why should Amelia Brice be surprised? Hiram, Lord Friar is known for having no gentleman’s honor to speak of and his jilting her on their wedding day makes it official.
Elijah Banks cannot allow his childhood friend to continue to be shamed this way. It’s been almost an hour past the time when the wedding was to start, and that bounder still hasn’t shown up. Unable to sit still a second longer, Elijah does the only thing that seems logical from where he stands: kidnap the bride and marry her himself in order to escape this scandal with one far more forgiving for a young lady’s reputation.
The only trouble is, she has a secret…but so does he; hers is big…but his is bigger.
“Nobody has to know he jilted you,” he said, reaching forward to push the hair sweeping across her forehead behind her ear.
She shook her head; her grey eyes shining with unshed tears. “They already do.”
“No,” he corrected. “All they know for sure is a wedding is not currently taking place. What they don’t know is if it was the groom who jilted the bride or the bride who jilted the groom.”
Amelia eyed him curiously. “No, I’m fairly certain they all know it was the groom who jilted the bride. My mother and father are both out there.”
“Yes, and they are doing a wonderful job acting as if they’re waiting for their daughter’s wedding to take place.”
“Acting?” she said, her eyes narrowing in on him.
“Acting,” he confirmed. “See, your mother is sitting in her pew, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief while your father is pacing a hole in the wooden platform just outside the front door of the church. Both are playing their roles perfectly, giving off the illusion to the rest of the guests that they are just waiting for the wedding to begin any moment.”
“Which seems to be less likely to happen as the minutes pass.”
“Exactly,” Elijah agreed. “Which is why you need to act now before someone discovers your game.”
He nodded once. “Yes, madam, your game.” He picked up her petite hand and wrapped his fingers around it. “I’m not as dimwitted as the rest of them. I see what’s really going on here.”
“At least you do, because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He ignored her. “I almost fell for it, too.”
“Fell for what?” she burst out in hysteria, presumably due to her current situation, lacing her voice.
“You’re jilting your groom,” he said evenly, meeting her eyes.
A shadow crossed her face and she cleared her throat. Twice. “What are you suggesting?”
“I’m not suggesting anything. I’m just merely making mention of the fact that the wedding has yet to begin, and both the bride and the groom have yet to be seen. How does a guest such as myself truly know whether it was the bride or the groom who didn’t come today? How do I—a random guest—know that the bride and groom were not so in love with the other they could hardly wait another day and decided to elope?”
“All right, well, perhaps that scenario isn’t very believable, but the other very well could be possible.” He took a deep breath. “Amelia, listen to me, I know you’re a very strong young lady and you come from a very important family; but none of that will matter come tomorrow when this is all over the scandal sheets.”
“I know,” she said with a swallow.
“Then see the sense in what I’m saying and marry me.”
OUR REVIEW :His Jilted Bride – Banks Brothers #3
I was pleased when I discovered that this book contains two of my favourite tropes in romance – that of “friends-become-lovers” and a marriage of convenience.
Amelia Brice has been in love with Elijah Banks for as long as she can remember. They played together as children, their games normally resulting in her chasing him around trying to extract a kiss. As time has passed, Amelia’s feelings towards Elijah haven’t changed; and over the years, he has fallen in love with her, so right at the start of the book, the hero and heroine are already in love with each other but have no idea how the other feels.
As the story progresses, there are hints that Elijah has good reason for playing his cards close to his chest where Amelia is concerned. In an attempt to assure her safety over the years, he has kept his distance from her, knowing that if the sorts of people he has to deal with in his work as an agent for the Crown were to discover his feelings for her, they might seek to use her against him and place her in danger.
Elijah and his twin brother Henry are in pursuit of the leaders of a prostitution racket; a gang that is kidnapping and selling young girls. Once the reader is aware of this, it’s fairly easy to work out who is behind it, but fortunately, the author has devised an entertaining way of getting us there.
The writing is good (although I spotted a number of typos, and anachronistic phrases) and the relationship between the brothers Elijah and Henry is fairly well-drawn. They bicker almost constantly when in each others’ presence, but obviously work well together and know each other inside-out.
There are also some lovely moments in the relationship between Elijah and Amelia, principally in the second half of the book where Elijah stops trying too hard to be her lover and decides to concentrate instead on being her friend. Up until that point, things between them have been strained, not to say acrimonious, as Amelia, believing that Elijah has married her only to escape the marriage to a man she does not love, bristles at his every attempt at intimacy or conversation.
And herein lies my problem with the book. For almost all of the first half of it, the reader is given very little to go on in terms of why Elijah is so desperate to get Amelia into his bed (apart from the obvious!) , why he is being so reticent with her and why Amelia was seen snooping around at the beginning of the book.
Once Elijah and Henry were revealed to be spies and the reader was taken more into their confidence, I felt that the pace picked up and began to enjoy the story more than I had done up until that happened. But that meant that I found the first part of the book to be very hard going. I can understand the authors’ wanting to build suspense, but there were too many questions and not enough answers in that section that instead of building suspense, all it did for me was build frustration.
In terms of the romance, because of the fact that we learn early on that the protagonists are in love with each other and don’t know it, it was obvious to me that unless the story was going to be over almost before it had begun, there were going to have to be secrets and misunderstandings in order to keep the protagonists apart until it was time for them to admit all, resolve their differences and get their HEA.
For example. Waking up on the morning after the night before in a strange bedroom, with her clothes in disarray and a hangover, Amelia immediately jumps to the conclusion that the mysterious stranger with whom she’d briefly conversed (and kissed) the previous evening must have had his wicked way with her, and perhaps even made her pregnant. I can accept that; after all, young women at that time were kept in ignorance of how sex works so it’s conceivable that Amelia could have thought that way.
It becomes apparent however, that she was set up and her ‘disgrace’ is used as a way to rush her into a marriage with a man her brother has picked out. Fortunately for her, he jilts her on the wedding day, leaving the way open for Elijah (and really, what kind of name is that for a regency hero?) to swoop in and rescue her by running away with her and marrying her instead.
Believing she’s no longer a virgin, Amelia does everything she can to repulse Elijah’s advances, insisting on thinking that his kisses come merely from a sense of duty and that he’s being cold and clinical in his approaches to her. This is a case of the author telling and not showing – there’s no indication on Elijah’s part that he’s just going through the motions; in fact he’s more than eager – but Amelia tells herself –and us – that he doesn’t really desire her and that she isn’t going to respond to him because he’s just attempting to make love to her out of duty. I really couldn’t see any basis for her assumptions in the text, and I think that it diminished the character of Amelia, as it made her seem unkind and cold. That’s not to say that Elijah wasn’t doing wrong by keeping things from her; it just seemed that this belief on Amelia’s part was simply a plot device to keep the hero and heroine apart for a bit longer.
Although I felt that keeping all the reveals until the second half of the book spoiled the overall balance of the story, and the presence of all the secrets and misunderstandings in the first half were very frustrating, the protagonists were generally engaging, there was a good plot and I enjoyed the relationship between Elijah and Henry.
USA Today Bestselling Author of ten unusually unusual historical romances that have been known to include scarred heroes, feisty heroines, marriage-producing scandals, far too much scheming, naughty literature and always a sweet happily-ever-after. When not escaping to another world via reading or writing a book, she spends her time chasing two young boys around the house, being haunted by wild animals, or sitting on the swing in the backyard where she has to use her arms as shields to deflect projectiles AKA: balls, water balloons, sticks, pinecones, and anything else one of them picks up to hurl at his brother who just happens to be hiding behind her.
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