This special edition brings together two of Lucinda Brant’s best-loved books, Salt Bride and its sequel Salt Redux. For this comprehensive edition we listened to reader requests; the original prologue to Salt Bride has been reinstated and the first edition cover art has been added. Also included is a 20,000-word bonus novella, Salt Angel, a new extended version of Fairy Christmas (previously published in A Timeless Romance Anthology: Silver Bells Collection) featuring well-loved characters from the Salt books. The Salt Hendon Collection is a great introduction to Lucinda Brant’s unique storytelling and her richly romantic 18th century world.
Publisher and Release Date: Sprigleaf Pty, June 2016
Place and time: England, 1760s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Wendy
This is the second read for me of Lucinda Brant’s Salt Bride and its sequel Salt Redux, this time with the added bonus of the original prologue to Salt Bride having been reinstated and with the inclusion of a novella which was originally published as Fairy Christmas in an anthology and which has been newly extended for its addition to the set. The novella, light and sweet – neatly ties off the complete boxed set. The Salt Duo was my first foray into Lucinda Brant’s gorgeously sumptuous Georgian world and I am now an addict of this author’s work and devour everything she has written and wait with eager anticipation for future work. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories – probably even more than I did initially – especially as I now fully appreciate the extensive research and work Ms. Brant undertakes on each and every book on her fabulous backlist.
The added prologue, which had already been removed when I read Salt Bride (due to some controversy over its content), was not as shocking as I had expected. It tells the story of Miss Jane Despard’s miscarriage and, in my opinion, is very sensitively handled, with just the right amount of information revealed. However, having read the book with and without said prologue, I do not believe the story lacked anything by its absence. Ms. Brant very successfully drip feeds the circumstances of Jane’s miscarriage throughout Salt Bride; and on reflection, I would conclude that I preferred the edition without the prologue as the gradual revelations of past events add an element of mystery to the story.
Both Salt Bride and Salt Redux feature one of the most memorable female villains I have ever encountered. Lady Diana St. John, Salt’s cousin, is truly an exceptional bad-girl, highly intelligent, but criminally insane, she operates in such a rational, self possessed manner that her madness is hidden beneath her cloak of self-assured entitlement. She features, highly in both of the novels, and the prologue, already mentioned, and completely steals the show with her machinations and downright, badness. The lengths she goes to to achieve her objectives are truly mind boggling but so expertly does Ms. Brant develop Diana’s character that she manifests as alarmingly believable. I wondered how the author would give Diana the comeuppance she deserves and when it came, I was not disappointed.
I loved the character of Magnus Sinclair, Earl of Salt Hendon. He’s an utterly gorgeous man who has been raised to feel completely comfortable in his own skin and fully accepts his powerful position. But he is finally knocked off his pedestal and brought down to the level of a mere mortal by the love and devotion of the serenely beautiful Jane Despard. The first book is very much about the traumatic events leading up to their forced marriage (a premise I love in HR) and the development of their romance; it is already in its infancy when they marry, but they have some way to go. And we see Salt finally becoming a more human, down-to-earth man and a loving husband and future father. The second book features Salt and Jane with a growing family but highlights Salt’s best friend, diplomat, Sir Anthony Templestowe who has recently returned from St.Petersburg where he was the darling of the Russian court. Salt’s little sister Caroline (Caro), and Antony (Tony) have loved each other for a while, but a high profile incident at the end of Salt Bride sent Tony into virtual exile to Russia. He now returns in order to help find a solution which will immobilise his diabolical sister, Diana, once and for all, but also to hopefully mend some fences with Caro. Anthony is a darling man but also a self-confessed alcoholic and I loved that Lucinda Brant tackles this very real problem in a pragmatic and practical manner, making it perfectly clear along the way that it can’t ever be resolved. Anthony has faced that – as alcoholics must – but more importantly, he has accepted that the fight with his addiction is an ongoing one. He is a lovely man and his vulnerability just serves to make his character more real and compelling. Caroline, too, has confessions to make before they can reach their HEA and the two make an interesting and charismatic couple.
Lucinda Brant expertly brings all of her primary characters together to bring Diana down – no mean feat – and I wondered, more than once, how she managed to keep her intricate plotting and placing of characters clear in her head. There is so much going on, especially during the dramatic culmination, that I had to think twice about where everyone was at any given time. Lucinda Brant doesn’t just write spine tingling romance – she always throws in an element of clever plotting and mystery and it is one of the aspects of her writing that I love; she keeps us guessing.
The novella is a nice addition and as I said, brings the whole series to a neat conclusion with not one but two delightful romances. Three of the characters appeared in the Salt Duo as secondary characters and the third, Prince Timur-Alexei Nikolai, makes his first appearance in the novella. Lucinda Brant has a pleasing way of including every age group in her romances; we are never too old for love and the elderly Russian Prince is an absolute sweetheart. His addition to the Fairy Christmas a delightful touch and his love story makes for a perfect ending to a terrific series. I loved the Salt Hendon collection and if you have never read a Lucinda Brant historical romance or mystery, this is a good place to start. Highly recommended.