Bride for a Knight
This is my first – and my last – Sue-Ellen Welfonder novel. There might have been a good story lurking somewhere in the pages of Bride for a Knight, but it was buried beneath clichés and a writing style that was at first amusing but quickly became incredibly annoying.
Jamie Macpherson is a big, strapping man, despised by his Scottish laird father for causing his wife’s death in childbirth, so Jamie was squired out at a young age. But due to a freak accident which killed his nine – yes, nine – older brothers, Jamie now is the only son the old man has. Jamie is recalled home to find that his father has betrothed him to a neighbor’s daughter. Also, Jamie’s father is being haunted by his sons’ ghosts. Jamie is quickly convinced that his brothers were murdered and that someone is trying to drive his father mad, but who and why?
Jamie’s betrothed is Aveline Matheson, a tiny waif-like woman, who believes in the laird’s stories, for she has seen the ghosts as well. She also believes that the brothers were murdered and is worried that the villain is now after Jamie.
Aveline and Jamie hit it off right from the start and there is no conflict between them or obstacles to their HEA – unless someone kills Jamie, that is. Jamie is a nice guy, Aveline is a nice girl, and they were nicely boring together. They fell for each other quickly, and for very little reason as far as I could see, and the only relationship concern they had was whether Jamie’s manaconda would kill tiny Aveline. It doesn’t, as shortly after the initiation they do it “at least eight times” in one night. Please.
The villain is a Snidely Whiplash character straight out of central casting whose identity is blatantly clear once Welfonder employs a “clever” writer’s trick meant to obscure said identification.
I could maybe take the lack of conflict, but the writing – the writing! At first I thought the style very reminiscent of Stephanie Laurens – the one line paragraphs mostly made up of sentence fragments – but at least Laurens usually confines that quirk to the love scenes. Every page in this book is littered with fragments. You’d think that so many short “sentences” would make this a fast read, but all the time I spent rolling my eyes slowed the process down somewhat. And then the scene where the villain twirls the figurative mustache remembering the vile deed done was so over the top that I had to put the book down for a couple of days before picking it up again. Here’s a portion:
The curses and shouts that had shattered the gorge’s peace on a certain fateful day were silent now and those who’d deserved to die slept cold and stiff in their graves.
All save one.
And he, too, would soon be no more.
His father, bluster-headed coward that he was, would do himself in. Fear and guilt were his enemies. No great effort would be required to rid the hills of him.
A few others might follow as well.
If a greater atonement proved necessary.
Bride for a Knight gets a D- instead of an F only because Jamie and Aveline are nice people.
Nice, but boring people.
Trapped in a bad book.
A very bad book.