Catherine Audley, the daughter of Britain’s spymaster on the Iberian Peninsula, is far more sophisticated than most young women her age, which doesn’t protect her from the machinations of her father, a husband of convenience, or the unrelenting demands of a long war. Over seven years of a first-hand, and highly personal, view of the Peninsular War, she matures into a woman who is finally able to go toe-to-toe with the enigmatic young man to whom she has given years of unquestioning devotion. Only to discover that love cannot compensate for betrayal of trust. Or can it?

While masquerading as an ox-cart driver, the young Englishman known as Blas the Bastard meets Catherine Audley, and his life is changed forever. It is 1807 and France is about to invade Portugal. To protect Cat’s father, his gaming establishment in Lisbon, and the British spy network on the Peninsula, Blas proposes a “paper” marriage between himself and young Catherine. She is fourteen; he, twenty-one—both too young for the responsibilities they must assume. Blas is arrogant, dashing, occasionally reckless, totally bound up in the demands of the war, and oblivious to the looming disastrous conflict with his sometime wife. 

When Cat finally discovers how badly Blas has deceived her, a monumental clash is inevitable. In no way does the triumph of allied troops in 1814 guarantee a happy ending for two people for whom the war was a personal disaster. Is she a sometime bride, the “widow” of a man who never existed? Is she Blas’s well-rewarded, but discarded mistress? Or is she a beloved wife whose only rival is her husband’s determined expediency in a time of war?

REVIEW by Emery Lee

Ms. Bancroft was a new author to me and this book was a great place to start.  I would like to begin my review with the author’s comment that first caught my eye when I  viewed this book on Goodreads :

Author’s Note: In addition to being a saga of young lovers caught up in a war, The Sometime Bride is the history of the Peninsular War, Britain’s fight against Napoleon in Portugal and Spain. The story moves from France’s invasion of Portugal and British troops being driven into the sea at La Coruña to the return of British troops under General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the fortified lines at Torres Vedras, and the gradual push of French troops across Spain and back to France. Plus the chaotic times in Paris after Napoleon’s surrender and the Emperor’s triumph as he gathers up his old troops, only to be stopped in one of the most famous and bloody battles in history—Waterloo.

Ms. Bancroft also adds:

This is the book where I inadvertently broke all the rules of romance. But when I read it again, more than 15 years after I wrote it and 11 years since its first publication, I discovered The Sometime Bride still qualified as the best book I ever wrote.”

I will add that this is one of the best RHF titles I’ve read in a long time! I was engaged in this story from page one with the vivid portrayal of the French invasion of Portugal portrayed through the eyes of the young female protagonist,Catherine “Catarina” Audley.  The author’s prose is elegant and impeccably incorporates the history of the Napoleonic Wars,  the excitment of espionage, and a riveting romance with toe curling sexual tension. While both the h/h are strong and appealing, the hero of the story has the added cache of being cloaked in mystery. There are also a number of plots twists that keep the story moving briskly while Cat and Blas struggle against impossible odds. (Saying anything more would be plot spoiling). Suffice to say I was riveted to this truly beautiful love story that had  an emotional depth far beyond what I expected.

Highly recommended for lovers of romantic historical fiction and should greatly appeal to fans of Joanna Bourne’s Sypmaster series (a personal fave).
**At time of review this e-book is available for only $1.49 ** 


Whether historical fiction or historical romance, self-professed Georgian junkie Emery Lee loves nothing more than crafting emotionally compelling stories that bring the past vividly to life. “Lee brings the atmosphere of the Georgian era to life with lush descriptions that beg the reader to see, hear, feel and touch it all….with a lively cast of characters and surprising twists and turns that are reminiscent of Fielding’s Tom Jones or Defoe’s Moll Flanders.”-RT BOOK REVIEWS

She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, RWA , Georgia Romance Writers, and the group moderator for Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers. http://authoremerylee.com . She also writes hot historical romance as VICTORIA VANE  http://authorvictoriavane.com  Blog: http://georgianjunkie.wordpress.com Twitter: authoremerylee FACEBOOK: Author Emery Lee


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  1. I read this just last month, and part of my mind kept cataloging all the things that should not have worked in a book…but in this one they did! It went into the “keeper” folder on the Kindle 🙂

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