Lord Holt Takes a Bride
Many readers report deciding within the first thirty or so pages whether or not they will enjoy a book. The more I read, the more I’ve become inclined toward this school of reading, and yet I continually find books that that prove me wrong. Lord Holt Takes a Bride, first in a new series by Vivienne Lorret, is just such a book. I will confess that I rolled my eyes through the first chapter or so, convinced that the heroine and her friends were a band of idiots. However, the story soon shifted in such a fashion that I found myself quite charmed and also admiring of the author’s perceptive view of her characters.
As the book opens, we learn that Lord Asher Holt has somehow whisked away an heiress by the name of Winnifred Humphries. The story then jumps back in time by a week, and the perspective shifts from the hero to the heroine. We learn that Winnie is betrothed to a dreadful-sounding man who only wants a life consisting of Winnie’s money and his mistress. Winnie’s friends have increasingly ridiculous plans to rescue her from her plight (hence the eyerolls). And we also learn that Asher is rather impoverished due to his gambling father’s ever mounting debts – not to mention his tendency to accumulate debt in his son’s name.
Asher finally has a way to escape his father’s shadow, and the money needed to buy his freedom from his father’s antics. However, he crosses paths with Winnie’s friends and somehow in the ensuing mess, his money vanishes. Determined to regain his funds and free himself, he whisks Winnie away as she flees her wedding. At this point, the story changes from what I initially took to be a tiresome tale of feistiness and ridiculous behavior to one heck of an entertaining road romance.
Given the circumstances, there is obviously plenty of tension between the leads as Asher drives away with Winnie. However, he agrees to deliver her to her aunt in the north of England. As the two set off from London, they encounter all sorts of obstacles along the way, and it also becomes clear that not only are they fleeing Winnie’s unwanted wedding, but that Asher’s unscrupulous father may have his own men following them as well.
If you have strong ideas about historical accuracy, this may not be the book for you. This novel is a bit of a romp, and while there are some historical details woven in, the author also uses the historical setting a bit loosely. The characters came off feeling a bit modern, but since the story was fun and I rather liked the leads, this didn’t bother me in the way that it might in a less well-written story.
After years of seeing his father at work, Asher is determined not to do anything that would make him seem cut from the same cloth. He may be referred to as a “scoundrel” throughout the book, but his actions make it apparent that the reputation he inherited from his father’s actions is almost entirely undeserved. His determination to be honorable affects his interactions with Winnie because although the more he gets to know her, the more he feels drawn to her, he is aware that she is an heiress and he does not want to do anything that would give the impression he is after her money.
Winnie, on the other hand, has grown up aware that her looks do not fit the current society mold and she is rather insecure as a result. At times this lack of confidence grew annoying, but given some of the interactions with her mother and others that we see in the opening chapters of the book, I could understand why she felt and acted as she did.
This book is interesting in that the middle of it truly shines. I’ve seen romance readers complain fairly often about books with a sagging middle, but in this one, the opening stumbled around a bit and the ending will probably strike many readers as just a little too convenient. The middle of the book centers on Asher and Winnie’s travels and the focus is almost entirely on their budding relationship. That tightly plotted chunk of the book worked really well, and left me with happy reading memories overall. There is a lovely secondary romance mixed in as well.
While Lord Holt Takes a Bride has its weaker moments, the main action of the book features a journey that will make lovers of road romances quite happy. If you like a good-humored romp of a story, you may well want to give this one a try. Given current events, I was in need of a diversion and this one left me with warm fuzzies.