Desert Isle Keeper
Lord Carew's Bride
Lord Carew’s Bride is a Regency Romance about a very unlikely couple. Though the hero is wealthy and titled, he is plain and hindered by a disability. The heroine is beautiful and popular, but she is avoiding love. It is magical to watch their initial friendship grow into love.
Samantha Newman is visiting her friends in the countryside. She has everything she should want in life, yet she is missing something. Alone with her thoughts, Samantha goes for a long walk. On the next estate, she meets Hartley Wade, an ordinary looking man who walks with a limp and has a twisted hand. Deciding he must be working for the Marquess of Carew, she strikes up a conversation with him and agrees to meet him again.
Samantha does not know that Hartley Wade is really the Marquess of Carew. He realizes Samantha did not recognize him, but he can’t bring himself to tell her the truth. For once, a woman was friendly to him because she liked his company, not because of his wealth. He wants to enjoy the novelty.
Samantha and Hartley meet several times. They talk and visit the property together, and she never thinks of it as improper. She feels safe with him. That’s important to her, because her heart was broken in the past. Soon, however, Samantha must return to London. She has but a short time to say good-bye to her friend. Hartley is already in love with her, so he is distraught. He lets her go without sharing his feelings, but decides to go into London.
Back in London, Samantha falls back into her routine. All is not well, however. At a ball, Samantha sees Lionel Kersey, the Earl of Rushford, the man she once loved – the same man who tried to ruin her cousin some years before. Samantha is scared because she’s unsure of her feelings for Lionel. Does she hate him or might she still have feelings of love for him? Lionel tries to convince her that he really loves her. Fighting her attraction, Samantha hurries out of the ballroom. To her delight, she comes upon her friend, Hartley. They take a walk in the garden, and Samantha tells him she loves him. She’s shocked, because she’s sure she doesn’t feel that way for him.
The next day, Hartley pays her a visit and proposes marriage. Only after she accepts does he reveal his identity. Everyone is confused about the reasons behind the marriage. Most people think she is marrying him for his money. Hartley thinks Samantha is marrying him for love, and Samantha thinks she is marrying him only because she feels safe with him.
Lionel is still an obstacle to their happiness. After the wedding, Lionel tells Hartley that he and Samantha were once in love. Unlike many romance heroes, Hartley doesn’t suddenly begin to distrust Samantha. He believes her side of the story, but he also realizes she married him because she felt safe with him. Now, he is disappointed and angry. Samantha fears their relationship is ruined. How will their relationship progress beyond this crisis? And how will Hartley teach Lionel a lesson?
As in the best novels, the characters drive the plot. Samantha and Hartley both contrast and compliment each other. They are opposites in appearance and demeanor, but at the same time they are more similar than others realize. Though they don’t realize it at first, both were hurt by the same person, Lionel Kersey. Though they avoid being bitter, they are still driven by what happened to them in the past. It will take Samantha some time to realize the depth of her feelings for Hartley. At first she only thinks of him as a friend, someone she can talk to without having to worry about flirting. This misconception almost dooms their marriage from the outset.
The villain, Lionel Kersey, really adds to the book. He is one of the most despicable villains in Regency Romance. His angelic appearance belies his true nature as he continually manipulates people to serve his own ends. Lionel isn’t afraid to ruin somebody to get what he wants. He proved that in his earlier appearance in Dark Angel. Samantha’s first impression of him was that he was cold. If only she had trusted that first impression…
This plot somehow avoids all the clichés. Sometimes, when you expect to run across one, Mary Balogh pulls off a stunning twist that turns the cliché on its head. Also, Mary Balogh demonstrates her usual mastery of point of view.
This novel is a sequel to Dark Angel. You might prefer to read Dark Angel first. Also, after reading Lord Carew’s Bride, I’m sure you’ll want to read The Famous Heroine.