My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Note that my review and rating is solely based on Gaelen Foley novella, “The Imposter Bride” (4 stars) and Loretta Chase novella, “Lord Lovedon’s Duel” (4 stars).
“The Imposter Bride”, Gaelen Foley
My exact thoughts after the abrupt ending of this novella by GF:
Seriously! I mean, why oh why this isn’t a full novel? I was loving it, LOVING it!!!
I know I’m beginning to repeat myself but this novella of about 40 pages or so was excellent. I’ve been wondering since I started reading the Inferno Club series where has the ‘old’ Gaelen Foley gone? I say ‘old’ because, for me, that series doesn’t compare to her earlier work, which is where the Ascension trilogy comes in, a series I adored. And “The Imposter Bride” gave me Ascension vibe all over it.
Two countries (make believe names but situated in Europe), Rydalburg and Saardova, are always fighting with each-other. There is just too much bloodshed, so the crown prince of Rydalburg, Tor, against his father, the King’s wishes, decides to marry the crown princess of Saardova, Giulietta after they defeat Saardova. He wants this bloodshed to end. But, Guilietta is a spoiled brat who has never lifted a finger in her life to do anything. And so, her parents send some of her ladies-in-waiting with her, the head of them were Minerva Messina, the General’s daughter. Minerva has been with Giulietta for a long time, they’re close in age and so she knows what kinda trouble the bratty princess can create. Minerva was send almost against her wishes, as she was about to attend the university as the first woman ever to do so in Saardova. I thought this was really weird. They use camel caravans to travel and swords to fight but Minerva is thinking of taking classes in the coming Autumn... ummm... well, pretty confusing.
When they arrive in Rydalburg, it was apparent that both countries were misinformed about each-other. Big, blond and blue-eyed Rydalburgers are the reserved, cool sort, while dark hair and eyed Saardovans are passionate and lusty (at least the men are!). The women of Saardova wear veils to protect themselves from lusty men. Anyway, they meet the Royal family, Minerva can’t help but have a look at Tor, who is also like any other Rydalburger but she is still attracted to this big warrior. Now, I was hoping for a little dislike here since Tor was the one who cut off one of her father’s legs in the recent war. Even though the General asked Minerva to remember that Tor didn’t kill him when he had the chance and what’s best for the country, it still felt a bit weird to me that she won’t harbor any ill will for a man who hurt her father! But I’m not complaining that big since Tor wasn’t a brute and war is war.
Minerva knows it too. Even though she’s attracted and checks him out well enough, she knows Tor is supposed to be for Giulietta, however spoiled she is. Minerva thinks maybe Tor’s steady hands are what they require to control the princess. Now, the fun was, because of the veil, Tor doesn’t see the face of any of the women, including Minerva and Giulietta. Tor’s friends even make good-natured joke out of it, that what if the girl is plain looking or something. Tor has also heard about the brat of a princess but he’s an understanding man and will do his duty. The marriage was to take place the next day but Minerva senses something wrong with Giulietta. But being very tired, she doesn’t pay much mind to it. Of course, the dense and self-centered princess does something equally dense and makes a mess out of the whole situation, leaving Minerva the only choice; to step into Giulietta’s shoes to avoid imminent trouble. I think you can guess from the title where this was going...
To me, the best thing of this novella was the relationship build up between Tor and Minerva. It definitely left me wanting more, yet I felt that they belonged together from the beginning. Tor was such an adorable hero; big, beautiful and sort of an awkward warrior who just wanted to make his wife happy. He fell for Minerva hard. I especially loved the wedding night scene and his words to Minerva. *sigh* As a heroine, Minerva was smart, just the type I want to read about. I understood why she did what she did. She wanted the best for the two countries and not knowing then that Tor isn’t the ogre they think Rydalburgers are she had to rely on her own judgments. Even though it’s a novella, it still gave me a feeling of completion because of the way the plot was structured. You even get a big mis, along with the emotional turmoil between Tor and Minerva. But only because it’s a novella, the scope of exploration was limited. I REALLY wish that this was a full novel. Could’ve been a great start to a series IMO! I saw characters that I liked and wished their relationships also had a chance of better exploration, i.e. Giulietta’s rakish brother, the crown prince of Saardova, Orson and Tor’s sister, the crown princess of Rydalburg, Katarina. Even, Giulietta herself and that Roma gypsy prince. I was sensing fun from whatever little I got about them.
As to the complaint, apart from the fact that I wanted more of this story, the abrupt ending. It just ended and you already know my reaction to that! Even a small epilogue would’ve been great, if not anything else between Tor and Minerva.
4 stars, with a lot of sighing to go with it.
Minerva: Yesh you arrree babe! *rwarr* And, .
“Lord Lovedon’s Duel”, Loretta Chase
This one was just F.U.N. OMG I loved this novella!! Superrrrrrrrrrrr in one word.
I know I’m acting crazy but “Lord Lovedon’s Duel” was about 30 pages of pure goodness. This is the LC I love to read, fun and interesting, with an adorable H and h!
I have to tell you at first that there are the mentions of recurring characters here from LC’s old novels, especially Don't Tempt Me. There are mentions of minor characters from the Dressmaker’s series too. I’m indicating because I know some people might get lost. Duke and Duchess of Marchmont are the H and h of Don't Tempt Me and it’s in Marchmont’s castle, De Grey, where the story starts with a wedding...
Chloe’s sister Althea is marrying a Prince, Prince Louis of A-Name-I-Can’t-Pronounce to be precise. But then, there was James Bransby, The Earl of Lovedon, who just about now, on her sister’s wedding day, killed the fun for them and made Althea cry. The two sisters accidentally eavesdrop and hear James talking about Louis’s lady love and that he’d abandoned the woman for this marriage to Althea, which’ll definitely help him with his poor financial conditions. James is Louis’ close foreign friend, so might be telling the truth. Althea is distraught hearing this, because they all thought it was a love at first sight with Louis. Whereas Althea, the youngest is sort of soft-hearted and too trusting, Chloe the eldest is smart and outspoken and right now, she is mad as a hellcat at James. How dare he ruin her sister’s wedding day so callously? Chloe would take revenge on his clumsy Lordship, damn if she doesn’t! She finds the earl and challenges him outright in a duel, in front of his gawking friends and her own sister, Sarah and friend Amelia.
The funny thing was, Chloe’s family, even though very rich, is commoner as her father is a lawyer. They dress at Maison Noirot FGS, which is the best and most expensive French lady’s milliner’s shop! I don’t think I have to introduce Maison Noirot to anyone who has read LC’s new series, the Dressmakers. Chloe’s family, the Sharps and Amelia’s, the Renfrews (also commoners) are two of the most important patrons of Maison Noirot and have been mentioned, on occasion, in both Silk Is For Seduction and Scandal Wears Satin. The setting is similar to the Dressmakers series. Now that the intro part is done, let’s get back to the story. Chloe is drunk too, so is James but he holds his alcohol far better than her. What ensue afterwards are some really funny scenes with Chloe drunk and challenging duels, James trying to apologize for something, what, he doesn’t really know about. I was so enjoying this. But even in all this chaotic situation, James notices Chloe. There was this thing between them from the first scene that I couldn’t deny. Love at first sight? I don’t know but it was definitely there... James helps her out when he figures it won’t be good for her sister’s reputation as a princess if the guests find her drunk as a skunk. Chloe was misinformed about James as well. She thought James is one of those spoiled aristocrats who don’t care about anything but themselves. But as I got to learn more about James, I begin to admire him, as did Chloe. I was so glad that she never fought against this thing between them.
Well, James is a bit on the arrogant side as any aristocrat, mind you, but he has a romantic heart too, which he hides. And it’s said that he’s not handsome, not in the classical sense at least but has a killer bod! Of course Chloe has noticed the killer bod part but she is determined to keep her mind to the revenge part. On the other hand, now that James has taken a good look at Chloe (totally appreciating whatever he saw) and learned that she’s full of spirits, he is attracted to her like a moth to a flame. The next day, they exchange a list of funny messages to each-other regarding the duel. Loved those notes. And then comes the dueling part... Note that Chloe’s friend, Amelia, is acting as her second, as James’ acquaintance, Mr. Bates is acting as his. I saw something, however small, forming between Amelia and Mr. Bates. I think there was an indication of another story here. I certainly hope so! I won’t go to the duel (yes, there was one), which was hilarious. I mean this novella was just fun, did I mention it? Oh, sorry, guess I did... So, just read it!
Even with the lack of love scenes (and I wanted some here definitely), this novella stole my . I wish it was a full novel. *sigh* 4 stars.
James: Told you, you won’t be able to get rid of me so easily, now that you’ve caught my eyes.
Chloe: Babe, who said I wanted to?
Me? (in happiness of course, lol). Overall, 4 happy stars.
This ARC was provided to me by Avon/HarperCollins via edelweiss which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.