If romance novels were evolution, then this book would be a Neanderthal. Or maybe a dinosaur.
The best thing I can say is that while the plot is immensely clichéd, it’s not bad, per se. Reese Dewar and Elizabeth Clemens were betrothed childhood sweethearts, but her father intimidated her into marrying someone else and Reese went off to war loathing her and not knowing she was carrying their child. Eight years later her husband is dead and, dear God, her e-e-e-e-evil in-laws are after her son for his title. So, with no other options, Elizabeth goes to Reese for protection, but since he loathes her he’ll just marry her to protect her son (for whom he already feels an affinity, which shows it damn well is nature and not nurture), and in the meantime he’ll be able to slake his lust and have his revenge. But, even as the lust turns back into love (and don’t blink, otherwise you’ll miss it), Elizabeth dreads telling Reese that the boy is really their son, because that will make him loathe her even more.
Like I said, I’ve read worse plots, because although there is nothing new here, you can’t afford to be picky these days. So my real problems boil down, firstly, to the caricatures – sorry, characters. Reese and Elizabeth read like soufflés that failed to rise, with no dimension and neither spark nor originality. Reese is one of those poor heroes whose groin pays ongoing homage to Priapus. Newsflash: It is an illness to be in a constant state of arousal, and if one’s penis twitches at the slightest flaring of your wife’s nostrils, there is a problem. As for Elizabeth, she’s so wet it’s a miracle she needs to cry so much. Spineless and boring – I have little sympathy and no interest in her.
But the biggest issue I have with Reese’s Bride is the writing. You know, I thought we’d passed the stage of melodramatic, purple, self-parodying prose, but lo and behold, a fossil appears in our midst. And the sheer volume of repetition bores me to tears. I’ve covered Reese’s loathing and groin activity, but I haven’t mentioned Elizabeth’s penchant for praying. I tried counting the number of times “Dear God” appeared, just for form’s sake, but I lost it after twenty. That may not seem like much, but you try reading from the heroine’s POV and encountering her futile entreaties every few pages.
Coupled with the ballooning penises and defective tear ducts is the annoying technique of paragraphing for emphasis *cue ominous thunder*. And it drove me nuts. No, I really mean.
I suppose I could go on about the secondary plot that had absolutely nothing to do with the main story, or the secondary love story that came out of nowhere, or the secondary characters that clearly have stories waiting to be written, but what’s the point? By the time I finished I’d slammed the book against my forehead, thrown it across the room, and gouged pages while taking frustrated notes. And in case you’re wondering, I speak literally.
I asked to review Kat Martin because she’s clearly been successful for years. But I suppose you either like the author’s style, or you don’t.