The Bride Finder
It was a dark and stormy book. That phrase kept running through my mind when I read The Bride Finder, Susan Carroll’s new paranormal romance. The Bride Finder comes with glowing recommendations from seven romance writers. Is it as good as the cover blurbs? No – it’s a fair book, but I was not bowled over by it.
The St. Leger family live in Cornwall in Castle St. Leger, an impressively gloomy pile that always seems to be surrounded by wind, rain, and lightning. The castle’s current owner and head of the family is Anatole St. Leger, who also always seems to be surrounded by wind, rain, and lighting. The St. Leger family had its origin in Prospero St. Leger who was burned at the stake for witchcraft. All of Prospero’s descendants are gifted (or cursed) with powers. Anatole is telekinetic, can sense the presence of another long before he can see or hear the person, and has visions foretelling future tragedies, but he cannot prevent them.
The St. Leger men rely on the services of a family Bride Finder to get them wives. Anatole gives the current Bride Finder, Reverend Fitzleger a list of characteristics he wants in a wife. She must be tall and robust, she must love horses and hate books and above all – not have red hair. Anatole has had a vision warning him about a tragedy connected with a flame-haired lady.
Reverend Fitzleger brings him Madeline Breton. She is small, slender, bookish, not a horsewoman, and has bright red-gold hair. Since Reverend Fitzleger insists Madeline is the one destined for Anatole (and Madeline’s feckless family has already spent her marriage settlement), the marriage takes place. Madeline is a sensible, rational woman and Anatole does not tell her of his paranormal powers. Anatole has always hated his powers, since his mother rejected him as soon as they manifested – he fears that Madeline will have the same reaction. On her part, Madeline finds Anatole attractive in his dark and brooding way, but senses that he is keeping something from her.
Madeline and Anatole grow closer, but just as things are beginning to run smoothly for them, Madeline is thrust into a family feud involving Anatole’s cousin, Roman St. Leger. This feud not only threatens their happiness, but threatens Anatole’s life. The book comes to a climax (in a thunderstorm) involving family secrets, the identity of the flame-haired lady in the vision, Anatole’s reconciliation with Madeline, and her acceptance of his St. Leger gifts.
I really liked Madeline. She is a woman who is brave, strong, and kind. She is rational and not in the least superstitious, but when she sees evidence of Anatole’s paranormal powers, she accepts them. I liked it when she told Anatole that his telekinetic power is fine for picking flowers from a tall tree, but just don’t use it to juggle silverware at the table. Her practical and sensible outlook contrasts very well with her husband’s broodiness.
Anatole was not so well written. He was so dark and brooding he almost became funny. He is tall and dark with a scar on his face, and always seems to be surrounded by bad weather and flowing capes. When Reverend Fitzleger’s little granddaughter referred to him as the man who “always needs to comb his hair,” I laughed out loud. I usually like dark and tortured heroes, but Anatole needed to lighten up just a little bit.
If The Bride Finderwas as good as its cover blurbs, it would be the book of the year. Maybe I had my expectations set too high, and I’m not sorry I read the book, but for me, The Bride Finder just did not live up to its hype.