Riley, Vanessa. The Bashful Bride. Fort Collins, CO: Entangled Publishing, 2018.
Paperback | $19.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1718906853 | 312 pages | Regency Romance
I received a copy of The Bashful Bride in a giveaway from Vanessa Riley ages ago, and am only now getting around to reading it. And despite it being the second in the series and being given the choice between this one and book one, the premise of this one appealed to me more. And I’m glad I took the chance with this one, as not only does it stand alone perfectly enough, but it also, in typical Vanessa Riley fashion, makes perfect use of that engaging and fun premise to delve into real historical details about the lives of free blacks and the abolitionist movement in the 19th century, a topic rarely discussed in Regency romance.
Ester was a heroine I could empathize with immediately. While initially I was drawn to what I knew about her superficially, that she was a shy young woman in love with a celebrated actor and given the chance to actually be with him (a fantasy many women surely have entertained at least once in their life, myself included), I grew to love her determination to escape a marital prospect she views as not right for her, given said “gentleman’s” philandering ways, especially as she is being bullied by her father and observes his loveless union with her mother. She did show her youth and naivete at times, but I think it made her character more well-rounded and flawed in a good way, rather than making her unlikable in those moments.
And Arthur Bex…he’s one of my new favorite heroes. While he is one of those heroes with a Big Secret, and keeping it may have led to more problems in the relationship than there may have been had it come out earlier, I could understand his reasoning for doing so and how his past impacted him…while also understanding Ester being upset with him for keeping it from her.
Vanessa Riley provides a unique take on the Regency romance that is both more inclusive and is also in some ways arguably more compelling in the more complex problems her characters face, and this book is a great example of that. Having read a few of her other one-off episodic works and novellas in the past, I’ll definitely try to pick up more books by her as I can. And I would recommend this book to those who may also looking for a fresh take on the Regency.