Saturday, April 6, 2013

REVIEW: "When She Said I Do" by Celeste Bradley

When She Said I Do (Worthington, #1)
When She Said I Do by Celeste Bradley
(Worthington  #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository

For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
St. Martin's -- January 29, 2013
Paperback, 402 pages
Borrowed from the Library

Angel's Sin 
Caught in a rainstorm, Miss Calliope Worthington takes shelter in a seemingly abandoned mansion. But when she finds a string of pearls in a dusty chest, she is caught red-handed by the house’s reclusive owner—Mr. Ren Porter—a fiery demon of a man who demands that Callie pay for the necklace…with her innocence.

Devil's Bargain 

When he first lays eyes on the beautiful trespasser, Ren mistakes her for an angel. But when he realizes Callie is a thief, he strikes a bargain she cannot refuse. She must take his hand in marriage and pay him back in full: one night of passion for each stolen pearl. But when Callie surrenders to his desires—night after wicked night—he awakens something deep inside of her. Something powerful and passionate. Like a fairy tale come true, the monster she married has become the man she loves…when she said I do.

Well, isn't this simply lovely?

I should probably start the review by saying that my expectations were not very high when I started this book.  I had read, and enjoyed, Celeste Bradley's Liars Club books (which are the prequels to this one), but got burned out on her writing when trying to get through the Runaway Brides series.  But, a glowing review from one of the bloggers I rely on the most convinced me to try Bradley again.  And I am so glad I did because this book was full of everything that I require in an entertaining historical romance like a tortured hero, an independent heroine, an annoyingly overbearing family, and plenty of humor.

This book focuses on Ren Porter, a side character from the Liars Club series, who was betrayed by the woman he loved and tortured while working as a spy for the British government.  Now, Ren spends his days brooding and drinking while waiting for the painful death that his doctors assured him would be coming soon.  But, everything changes when Calliope (Callie) Worthington and her bizarre family stumble into his manor house to escape the cold.  A scandalous encounter with Callie forces him to propose marriage to her and his life is never the same.

I really liked Ren's character.  He is a bit of a jerk at the beginning with the whole bargain with the pearls, but he quickly admits (to himself) that it was not the way to interact with his new bride.  His life has taken a dramatic turn and he doesn't really know how to react to the changes so he is a little harsh.  He became enraptured by Callie from the moment they meet and it was really interesting to see him start to life again with her influence.

Callie is a very fiesty heroine, but doesn't really go overboard with the reckless behavior.  She is extremely protective and family-oriented, but has a secret desire to have her own life.  Though Callie never says it, I could tell, as a reader, that she was often taken advantage of by her parents and siblings and wants someone to take care of her once in awhile.  I also admired her wry and humorous outlook on life and her own situation.  Callie's inner dialogue were some of the highlights for me!

The romance between Callie and Ren felt slow-burning despite the literal time they spent together (most of the book takes place over ten days).  They have obvious chemistry from their first meeting and seem to good for each other.  It takes time for trust to build (especially on Ren's side), but the development of the relationship is sweet and very swoon-worthy at times.  I also have the mention that the sex scenes in this book are pretty spicy though not approaching erotica levels.  The heat factor works for these two characters, but is a bit more than I was expecting at first.
In terms of plot, When She Said I Do is based on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale which is one of my guiltiest pleasures.  There was a great combination of lightness and darkness in the story and enough original ideas to keep the story fresh.  The drama focuses primarily on the mystery of who is behind some well-timed attacks on Callie which range from annoying to deadly and whether Ren's past is finally catching up to him.  The comedy is very ironic and deliberate.  Most of it comes from Callie's thoughts and the escapades of her large, unorthodox family. 

Overall, I thought this was an exciting and sweet historical love story.  It has everything that I look for in a good fairy tale retelling while also tying back to Bradley's earlier books.  I am really excited to see more of this series particularly because of the out-of-control, but still entertaining Worthington family.

--She had often looked fairly pretty, but she had never been beautiful, not even in the rose-pink dress from the night before.  To be truthful, she suspected that "goddess" suited her better than did "harlot."  Although harlot was bound to be more fun. (pg. 265)

--He dropped his face into her hair, "I never took a true breath until I met you." (pg. 396)

1. When She Said I Do
2. And Then Comes Marriage (Coming 2013)


1 comment:

  1. I'm a total sucker for any Beauty and the Beast reboot so I'll definitely have to check this one out. Thanks! :D


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