The Spanish Bride
When you read a book like The Spanish Bride you realize how essential a good conflict is to a romance. Everyone wants the hero and heroine to love each other, but if there is no realistic threat to them or any particular reason for them to be apart, then there’s no story.
Spanish condesa Carmen Montero met and married Major Lord Peter Everdean, Earl of Clifton, when he was serving in the British army in Spain. Carmen had no love for the French invaders, so she helped the British army with information when she could, and caught Peter’s eye. The two married quickly, but were tragically separated the next day. Both thought the other dead until Carmen arrived in England and saw Peter at a ball.
Carmen came to England in the first place in search of a blackmailer who is trying to milk her for money. She is afraid that if she doesn’t discover the person responsible, the blackmailer will make life miserable for her and her daughter Isabella. She is shocked to find Peter alive. He is surprised to se her, but he’s angry at first because he believed she betrayed his regiment to the French army.
And right here is where the utter lack of conflict begins. Peter and Carmen still love each other. He quickly finds out that he was wrong about her. So why don’t they kiss, make-up, and live happily ever after? Your guess is as good as mine. Instead they choose to wonder if the other one still loves them after all this time. Then Carmen spends extra time trying to figure out how to tell Peter that he has a daughter. This is not exactly scintillating stuff.
The blackmail plot could have added something to the book – if only it had made sense. The blackmailer’s threat is that she will reveal Carmen’s perfidious actions during the war. Maybe that should have had her running scared is she’d actually done something perfidious, but the accusations are false. So what was she afraid of? Blackmail is only effective if someone is actually guilty or has something to hide.
Carmen and Peter are nice enough characters, but this non-story just doesn’t hold any interest. The irony is that there is plenty of potential for a good conflict here; the author just told the wrong part of the tale. The interesting part would have been when Carmen and Peter met during wartime. There was danger, clashing cultures, and enemies who wanted to tear the lovers apart. But the author tells this part of the story in a twenty page prologue, and the remaining two hundred pages are simply not compelling. What a lost opportunity.
It should be noted that the hero and heroine from Scandal in Venice are not just minor players here; you really do see a lot of them. So if you just loved them the first time around, you might want to see them again. Otherwise, this isn’t a book I’d rush right out and buy.