Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review of Substitute Bride - Laurel Lamperd

Regency Romance – Publisher: Wings Press
ISBN (10) 1-59705-733-9 ISBN (13) 9781597057332

Substitute Bride is the Laurel Lamperd’s first novel. The plot revolves about the need for the rakish Nick, Marquess of Desborough to wed – so to take possession of his inheritance from his tight-fisted cousin. His intention is to marry beneath him, then have the marriage annulled.

Just as Nick gets word that his bride is no longer available, along comes the hapless Emma Napier and her friend Abby, two country girls of good birth who are fleeing to London so Abby can escape a loveless marriage to a stranger. Abby’s convenient migraine puts Emma within the Marquess’ grasp at the time she needs money and he needs a substitute bride. Emma allows him to bully her into marriage. Nick then goes off to claim his inheritance.

Emma never expects to see Nick again and keeps the marriage a secret, as agreed. Emma’s Aunt Matilda takes the two girls under her wing so they can enjoy a season. A London success, Emma has suitors queuing up at the door. Inevitably, the recently wed husband and wife meet. The Marquess is reluctant to set the annulment in motion, and the protagonists are pitted against each other. Thrown into the mix is the fun and frivolity of a London season, an exquisitely beautiful but hard-hearted mistress plotting Emma’s downfall, a cast of interesting and lively secondary characters with their own sub-plots and everybody minding everyone else’s business.

On the down side, the sentence structure of the second paragraph is clumsy and confusing. Appearing as it must on the first page, it immediately catches the eye and doesn’t create the best of impressions. The production standard is fairly sloppy too. Although the novel looks good with a nicely designed jacket, and is easy on the eye with a clear, good sized font, there are several misplaced full stops throughout, and many of the dialogue marks are reversed, some all on one page. There are enough of these mistakes to irritate, they give the impression that the book wasn’t proof read properly – if at all.

There is very little to criticise in the writing itself. The novel is well constructed and is a smooth read all the way through. SUBSTITUTE BRIDE engages the emotions right from the start. There is enough description to serve time and place. The Marquess is traditionally alpha male, but not alpha enough to be a pain in the proverbial. Emma is a spirited heroine who brings her man to heel over the course of the novel. It’s good fun and the ending satisfies with all threads tied up.

Excellent characterisation, natural dialogue and tension that rises naturally from the plot are all present in this subtly ironic novel that is a pleasure to read. I’ll look forward to reading Laurel Lamperd’s second book.

Reviewed by Janet Woods – author

No comments: