The deBurgh Bride
The deBurgh Brideis a medieval romance, the sequel to Taming the Wolf, and it tells the tale of Elene Fitzhugh and Geoffrey de Burgh. Geoffrey wins Elene’s hand by being the de Burgh brother who draws the shortest straw. The fact that Elene is forced to marry by the King’s decree after murdering her first husband (and yes, she did murder him) makes, at the very least, a less than comfortable situation between herself and the de Burgh brothers. Elene has had a very hard life, trusts no one and is suspicious of everyone and everything. She is unkempt and aggressive, threatens one and all with curses, her knives and her attitude. Geoffrey is very patient with her, to the point of being unrealistic, and I did tire of her “attitude”, but just about the time I was going to put the book down, it shot off like a cannon ball and I read the rest in one sitting.
What began to change it for me was the fact that Elene thought that Geoffrey and his sister-in-law were lovers. She saw their laughing and talking to each other in a light that most people would not see and she came running to the fore, accusing her sister-in-law of being Geoffrey’s whore. Obviously Elene was not used to women being treated well, but this attack caused him to lose his patience. Thank goodness!
She expected violence, the kind that would be more than just a slap across the face. What she got was being lifted bodily and thrown over Geoffrey’s shoulder and taken to their room. Yep, it’s that trite old “Me Tarzan, you Jane” scene, but so well written, you don’t really notice that fact until long after you’ve finished with the scene. There really is something about the beginning of a love scene that starts out this way. He reaches the room, throws her on the bed, yells at her, figures he’s bested her and just when he turns his back on her, she comes at him and puts a blade at his back. He’s astonished that she would even think of such a thing. He knocks the knife out of her hand, he yells at her some more, he rants and raves and asks her when she’s going to grow up enough to take on her responsibilities like a good wife should.
There’s even the “I’m going to turn you over my knee” scene, where, of course, he begins to get turned on. It’s silly, it’s trite, but it works. This author can write a love scene that we’ve read at least a hundred times before and yet, it doesn’t seem old hat. I loved her for it.
Yes, Elene turns his crank and leaves him hanging. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, and I mean that in every sense of the word because if there’s anything I can say about Geoffrey, he’s nice. After the near spanking and the fact that they end up on the bed kissing and petting, he begs her to touch him and when she realizes what he wants, she pushes him off and runs away. He worries that he’s terrified her and made her afraid of him. I liked that in him; he was finally beginning to show that he might just be human.
Geoffrey’s “niceness” seemed at odds with his utter lack of interest in finding out why Elene was the way she was. Just why was she such a shrew? While medieval marriages were generally for political and/or economic reasons, I always feel the hero should be more concerned about his wife than he is about his holdings. The book failed a bit in this respect. I think any hero worthy of the name would want to seek out the reasons behind her shrewishness. Their falling in love happened just a tad too quickly from “I could care less about you,” to “I love you madly.”
Elene is confused about Geoffrey; he’s not like the men she has always known. She eventually realizes she must face her own demons alone and change her own life if she wants to find happiness and she also realizes that her happiness lies with Geoffrey and that, truth be known, she could have been married off to a much worse man. I liked the fact that Elene was able to figure out which side of the bread her butter was on and to do something about making her situation better all the way around.
Geoffrey’s nature, while at times annoying, allowed Elene to become human. One night he asks her if it didn’t bother her to never brush her hair and then offers to brush it for her. She objects, but the next night, returns to allow him to finally remove the mats and tangles. I loved this scene; you could feel Geoffrey’s desire for her coming to the fore, his seeking to control himself and the situation, not wishing to frighten her.
Deborah Simmons has a way with words and the turn of a phrase that is truly beautiful in its rendition. Scenes we’ve read over and over again are no longer trite but exciting to behold. It’s rare these days, after the thousands upon thousands of romances I’ve read over twenty-five years, to find a writer who can make an old scene brand new for me. I tip my hat to the author in this regard. When Elene and Geoffrey begin to come together as a couple, they really do it well.
The deBurgh Bride would have worked better for me had it been longer. I like the author’s style, but I think Harlequin’s length requirements hindered the story. Overall, however, the book worked well enough. It was light, fast paced, and far from boring. While I did tire of Elene’s distrust of one and all and felt it dragged on too long, it’s a good book for curling up on a rainy Sunday when you don’t want a really intense read.