on June 27th 2017
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A rogue nobleman, a rescued lady, and revenge undone by romance all play a part in New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston’s irresistible novel of best-laid plots, delicious deception, and unexpected passion. Two years have passed since Josie Wentworth was bought from the Sioux for a gold watch and whisked back to England by Marcus Wharton, the Duke of Blackthorne. When Marcus breaks his promise to return Josie to America, she ends up as a maid in the home of his charming but neglected nephews. Once Josie’s long-lost family finds her, however, the suddenly wealthy heiress sets out to save the two boys from their indifferent uncle—and teach the duke a lesson in honor. Learning that Marcus is seeking a rich American bride to save his estate, Josie plots to catch his eye—certain he’ll never recognize the beauty she’s become as the ragged captive he rescued. But Josie doesn’t wager on her marital charade taking a tender turn, as the nobleman she’s despised for years proves to be a very different man than she’s imagined. And there’s no denying his passionate caresses, as she falls deeper under the spell of a husband determined to claim her heart.
When he was in the Dakota Territory on a buffalo hunt, Marcus Wharton, Duke of Blackthorne, witnessed a woman being whipped by Sioux renegades; he couldn’t stand it, and rescued her. He made sure she was taken care of and he entailed a friend to take her back to England and then send her back to her family in America. Marcus could not forget her bravery, but as he was to get married, he had to forget the nameless woman. Two years later, Marcus is a widower without an heir, his wife having died in childbirth. His estate is in dire need of money, and he must marry within a month. Marcus would rather marry an American heiress; he doesn’t want his peers to know about his financial distress. The woman, Josephine “Josie” Wentworth, meanwhile never made it to America, and has been a servant in one of Marcus’ estates, where his two forgotten nephews also reside. Josie has become friends with the unfortunate boys, and she tries everything to help them. And one day, she could. Josie learns she has inherited quite a bit of money, and founds out that the Duke is looking for a rich American. She swears Marcus will pay for not keeping his promise to her and letting his nephews suffer.
BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE is part of the Bitter Creek series, I hadn’t looked before picking it up, and it’s actually a long series. BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE definitely can be read as a standalone, and in a way it is part of what was sort of a problem where I’m concerned The romance between Josie and Marcus constitutes but a part of the book, it seems like BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE is part of a family saga rather than a series of interconnected books, and I thought there was too much recapitulation of several momentous events that lead to this particular story. While some of it was necessary to recap how Josie came to be a captive, there was much insistence and repetition on what had happened in the previous books and to Josie’s siblings. I’m not sure if readers who had read the other books needed all of it. In fact, there was so much recapping that I feel I don’t need to read the previous instalments, and I’m not convinced it is a wise marketing strategy, but then again, it’s a matter of personal preferences.
Ms. Johnston’s excels at descriptions, peppered with period details that make this book a picturesque reading experience. BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE is a very good story, with many more layers than I expected, and the characters are extremely complex, and experience much growth, but it takes a very long time to get anywhere, as the story meanders to Josie’s siblings, and a second romance takes place. The relationship between Josie and Marcus is riveting, however the inevitable kept dragging along to create yet more unnecessary conflict.
There was a phrase that was jarring, not era-appropriate, and had me on edge for the remainder of the story. While I know I was reading an uncorrected proof, I can only hope that the offensive idiom was caught in the final edit process. Had I known that BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE was more of a family saga than the type of series I’m used to, I might have enjoyed it more. Still the writing is overall excellent, and every issue is nicely settled in the end.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.