Once Again a Bride by Jane Ashford

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Once Again a Bride by Jane Ashford
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (407 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Pushed by her dying father into a marriage with one of his friends, Charlotte Rutherford Wylde finds herself bound to an old man who disdains and ignores her. Miserable, furious, she determines to take drastic action, but before she can confront him, her husband is murdered in the dark London streets. From the moment Charlotte hears this upsetting news, she is subject to shock after shock. Her dead husband has spent the fortune she brought him, leaving her nearly penniless. His will reflects his obsession with the artifacts of ancient Rome, turning her home into a museum. And most astonishing of all, he had an entire family that he never mentioned.

The fashionable Wyldes are as surprised to hear of Charlotte’s existence as she is of theirs. To the charismatic Alec she is, at first, just another obligation in his overburdened life. He has to grapple with his dead relative’s shady business dealings, an attempted robbery, and a suspicious Bow Street Runner. But it’s not long before Alec realizes that there is nothing he would rather do than cherish the entrancing Widow Wylde.

Being married to the Grinch who acts like a frustrated and covetous museum curator is a recipe for a disastrous life and that is where a reader meets the beaten down yet courageous heroine, Charlotte.

Right away the author paints a picture of a woman you can feel sorry for. She’s belittled and scorned at every turn and when it seems all hope is lost, her circumstances turn on a dime. What follows is a journey on which she learns to have hopes again, and it was fascinating to watch her relearn how to have fun. It plucked at my emotions to see her realize how much she’d been denied and that she no longer had to cower and keep her thoughts and observations to herself. A reader sees Charlotte come into her own and it was terrific to read.

One of the highlights for the heroine is the hero, Alec. He’s a frustrated hero on many levels not the least of which is his being robbed of actually being a hero. Not that he would admit to wanting to be, but the signs where that that Alec had feelings for Charlotte. Watching him deny his attraction, or run and hide behind his duties, or run a mental horror story of a list of why he shouldn’t pursue her was at times both amusing and frustrating to read. Once again the technique is used of having the male lead in a story be plagued by events he witnessed as a child affecting and directing his adult life – until certain revelations turn his beliefs and his understanding of the world on its ear. Fortunately, the ploy wasn’t overdone or heavy handed and served as a convincing plot conflict because the author used the technique well.

On the other hand a technique that almost made me motion sick was the head hopping. Sometimes it works, depending on placement and the amount it’s used in a book. In this case I found it very jarring and disruptive to have so many switches in point of view. I believe there were four. I can perhaps see why the author did it because she had not one but two romances going. The second love story being that of Charlotte’s maid, Lucy and Alec’s servant, Ethan. It was sweet, and certainly the couples’ lives intertwined in such a way to keep a reader fascinated. But no matter how well the scenes were written, the delivery was choppy and broken and it left me feeling like I had to work harder to read the book.

The main conflict is the solving of a crime and who it eventually turned out to be. The author wove the mystery of who could have done it very well and it wasn’t until almost the end that I figured out who it was. Ms. Ashford was clever with her clues. It was a bit of a surprise to find out who it was because no one seemed capable of such a scandalous thing. The author even threw in a few red herrings, so I was appropriately and convincingly diverted.

Once Again a Bride is a clever and entertaining historical romance sure to please many a reader. When Charlotte and Alec get to experience the ultimate in loving, it’s spicy and pleasing. The story also left me wondering how in the world Alec’s cousin was going to fare beyond this tale. I loved Callie, the naughty kitty and enjoyed getting to know Alec’s sisters. There is a lot to be entertained by in this book and it’s worth reading a romance about a time in England’s history that I don’t often see dealt with. I’m glad I read it.

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