The Baronet’s Bride is a novella by Emily Larkin and the final installment of her historical romance series, Midnight Quill. I’ve loved and enjoyed the author’s previous works, and this new installment is no different. It was well-written like them all. In fact, for me, it’s a surprising installment in the series that I didn’t expect to see but was quite delighted when it was released. I’ll try to explain as I go.
Book 1 of Midnight Quill was The Spinster’s Secret. When I read it back in 2013, it wasn’t a series. In fact, the prologue of sort, The Countess’s Groom was published after book 1. But it was written in a way that I was still able to enjoy it, even though I generally like reading my series in order. The connections between both books were nicely done but they were also good standalones on their own. Personally I don’t think you absolutely need to read the prologue before reading book 1, though I’d suggest reading it just for the enjoyment. But The Baronet’s Bride is rather a straight-out extension of The Spinster’s Secret. The h and H of this novella, Gareth and Ceci, were introduced as the secondary couple, and I thought they got their HEA too because they got married within that story. I wanted a bit more of their romance but wasn’t expecting a separate installment. When I think of the publication date of book 1, it obviously was quite a long time coming too.
The Spinster’s Secret is a lovely historical romance set in the Regency era, and one of my very favorite in this genre. I re-read it before I read this novella, something I don’t do often anymore. Re-reading I mean. Even though I think you can still enjoy without reading it, I highly recommend reading The Spinster’s Secret before delving into The Baronet’s Bride to get an idea of how Gareth and Ceci met.
Ceci Dunn, a young widow, was living in the dreariest, most ugly looking house called the Creed Hall as a companion to equally dreary and ugly Lady Marchbank, the owner’s widowed sister. Ceci’s deceased husband left her with virtually nothing so she was desperate for an honest living. I initially thought Ceci hadn’t been widowed for long because I remember she came to Creed Hall 2yrs. when book 1 began. She was a close friend of the h of book 1, Matilda or Mattie. Let’s just say, they made their living in Creed Hall bearable by enjoying each-other’s company. You have to read to understand just how dreadful it was!
Gareth arrived in Creed Hall when his friend, the H of book 1, Edward, summoned him to bring in some documents. Edward was there first to inform the owner, Arthur Strickland, of the news of his only son’s demise at Waterloo. Toby, friend to both Gareth and Edward and quite missed by them all. Both men are veterans of Waterloo; both scarred inside and out. While Edward had a face marred with horrible scars, among other things, Gareth was missing an arm. But they have both resigned their posts and been trying to heal as best as possible fighting ill health and PTSD.
While visiting Creed Hall, Gareth noticed Ceci and fell head over heels in love. She was the perfect women he’d been looking for, exactly his type; a petite blonde. Demure but not a doormat. Definitely not boring. Even though there was a bit of misunderstanding, they finally settled on each-other and decided to get married ASAP.
That’s where their romance pretty much ended in Book 1. Neither Gareth nor Ceci’s background were discussed in detail. Ceci was alone, that much I knew of but when I read she was widowed almost 10yrs. ago I couldn’t help thinking what she was doing before coming to Creed Hall. Was she a governess or a companion always? I also wanted to know more of Gareth’s family as I don’t remember reading much. All I knew that an uncle died without issue and left him a baronetcy, a nice income with a country home and lands of his own. So, in that sense, Gareth is now doing quite fine financially. Even though that didn’t matter to his ex-fiancé who ditched him right after his return, breaking off the engagement. Let’s just say he wasn’t the same man anymore and that girl couldn’t handle all that.
This incident left a profound impact on Gareth. Along with his PTSD and the constant physical pain, this blow made him extremely miserable. He lost his self-confidence, even if he tried his best to show that it didn’t matter. But anyone close to him knew how much he was hurting. Edward certainly knew and was quite protective of him. This also becomes a problem on him and Ceci’s wedding night.
The Baronet’s Bride is very short, a sparse few chapters that only deals with Gareth and Ceci’s wedding night to show the readers how they presumably overcome their personal demons for one another. Even though they fell in love, neither knew each-other that well. But they were willing to try and overcome their problems and solve their differences, paving the way for a happier married life than both Gareth and Ceci could ever have imagined.
My only problem was with how short it was. Even though I didn’t anticipate a separate installment for them, I had wished the novella was a bit longer and showed us more of their married life beyond that first night. There is an epilogue that jumps a few years after that, to round up the series or so to speak, bringing in both couples and giving us a glimpse of how happy they are now. I’m tremendously happy for them both and felt quite sad that there won’t be any more installments in the series. But trust me when I say this, I’m a big fan. Call me greedy but I’d have read another book on Edward-Mattie and Gareth-Ceci in it if there was one. No new characters necessary. 3.5 stars and recommended.
Review copy received from the author, thanks Emily. :)