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Monday, November 17, 2014

REVIEW: "Secrets of a Wedding Night" by Valerie Bowman

Secrets of a Wedding Night (Secret Brides, #1)
Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

St. Martin's Paperbacks -- Published in 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 334 pages
Read in November 2014
Borrowed From Library

THEMES
Brainy Heroes, Reunited Couple

SUMMARY
How to Stop a Wedding
Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill,has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

How to Seduce a Widow
Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…


FIRST LINE
"The blows on the door echoed through the foyer."

MY THOUGHTS
I've read some of Valerie Bowman's historicals as part of her Playful Brides series.  So I decided to give Secrets of a Wedding Night a try since it was her debut novel.  I found it to be decent, but there were definitely issues that she worked out in her later works.

The main characters are Lily, a widowed countess, and Devon, a possible impoverished lord.  During Lily's first season, these two flirted and thought they would end up married.  But, a multitude of circumstances resulted in Lily marrying an older man.  Now, five years later, Devon is on the hunt for a wife and Lily's secret (and scandalous) pamphlet has resulted in his marriage suit being rejected again.  In retaliation, Devon decides that he is going to seduce the woman who broke his heart years ago and force her to retract her pamphlet so that he could go on with his life.

The scenario I described above is pretty convoluted and that is how I felt while reading it.  There were so many Big Misunderstandings that I thought it felt overdone and melodramatic.  I just kept wanting to scream at the two characters to just talk to one another and then most of their problems would be resolved.  It was obvious to me what happened years earlier and I wasn't a huge fan of the way it dragged on.

Despite my issues with the plot, I did like both Lily and Devon.  Devon was my favorite with his determination to take revenge on the people who helped impoverish his father.  While I didn't agree with him keeping his new fortune a secret, I understood his motivations and applauded him for taking charge of things himself.  I also enjoyed the fact that he was a bit of a savant when it came to card games.  Lily was a bit blander than Devon, but still a decent person.  She thought she was doing the right thing by publishing the pamphlet and seemed to regret the decision by the end.

There are a lot of secondary characters that are obvious sequel fodder especially Lily's friend, Viscount Medford, and Devon's almost fiancee, Miss Templeton.  I enjoyed most of them, but I did find Lily's sister (Annie) to be very annoying.  She is young and naive, but also did some things that I would describe as stupid.  She never seemed to learn her lesson and it seems like this might continue in her own book which saddens me.  I'm interested in the rest of the series, but I'm not sure when I'll get to them.

It is obvious that I had some issues with this book, mostly associated with the plot.  Valerie Bowman showed real skill with her character development and entertaining dialogue.  The romance was also very sweet once the two protagonists finally started talking to one another.  Debuts are always a little hard to judge and I am happy to say that most of these problems were fixed in the later Bowman books I've read.

3 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Secrets of a Wedding Night
1.5. A Secret Proposal
2. Secrets of a Runaway Bride
2.5. A Secret Affair
3. Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage
3.5. It Happened Under The Mistletoe

5 comments:

  1. Yeah, I don't think I will be reading this. Just the synopsis alone is sort of turning me off. And I really have little patience for the Big Misunderstanding.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think I will be continuing the series anytime soon. I like Bowman's Playful Brides series so I'll just keep reading those.

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  2. I am no fan of the Big Misunderstanding as well. It just doesn't make sense and it comes off to me as a bit of a filler or in certain cases as lazy writing.

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    Replies
    1. It did seem a little lazy in this book. Thankfully, Valerie Bowman seems to have gotten better about it if the Playful Brides series is any indication. Thanks for visiting!

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  3. Oh that can be frustrating. Have definitely wanted to shake characters and lock them in a room together until they actually talked instead of doing the big misunderstanding.

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