Review of “Secrets of a Runaway Bride” (Secret Brides #2) by Valerie Bowman

Bowman, Valerie. Secrets of a Runaway Bride. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250008961 | 375 pages | Regency Romance

2 stars

Compared to the first book in the series, which I loved for its redefining of common romance tropes, this one embraces and flaunts some of the tropes I like the least wholeheartedly: the historical heroine who borders on TSTL and is ignorant about the consequences of risking her virtue for love repeatedly (first with another man, then with the hero), and the hero who has closed himself off to love because of an adolescent infatuation, becoming a seasoned rake, only to become unrealistically weak in the knees (and other parts of his anatomy) for an innocent in close proximity to him. The former is a shame, especially considering I thought I saw some character development and maturity in Annie in the prior book, only to have that not be reflected at all in this book.

I did find Jordan slightly more tolerable than Annie, as despite his lack of self-control, he does have something of a conscience, and by the end, he does right by her. But I couldn’t really see what the attraction was, aside from the physical, especially considering the fact that his good looks are referred to at least a dozen times.

However, I did enjoy the presence of the supporting cast. As annoying as Eggleston’s presence was, I wanted to know what was going on with him, considering how hot-and-cold he was toward Annie throughout the book. I don’t know if I could handle a book with him as the hero, but I would have liked greater clarity about why he led her on. I also continue to love Medford and the role he plays both as friend of the family and pamphlet publisher, and can’t wait to get my hands on his book to see how he finds his HEA.

Review of “Secrets of a Wedding Night” (Secret Brides #1) by Valerie Bowman

Bowman, Valerie. Secrets of a Wedding Night. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7/99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250008954 | 340 pages | Regency Romance

4.5 stars

This is my first book by Valerie Bowman, and it will not be my last. She manages to take some tired tropes, like the virgin widow and a couple with deception between them, and make them into something entirely her own. Big Misunderstandings can make or break a book, and Bowman does it with the right touch so there is an understanding of both characters’ perspectives of the situation.

I love that Devon, despite having a bit of a wild youth, is presented as a mature hero who actually cares about others, unlike many of his peers who start off the book as self-concerned ne’er-do-well rakes. But I could also understand why he presented that facade and the lie about being poorer than he was, as he didn’t want to be pursued just for his money.

Lily is someone who I liked and sympathized with sometimes, but I do feel that her backstory could have been fleshed out more, especially since she presents herself as being so cold and sometimes overly controlling. It is understanding why she urges her sister against making the same mistakes she almost did, but I felt like there wasn’t a lot of consistency with her past to justify her ending up in her current situation. I would have liked to get more than just her basic descriptions of her father’s or husband’s behavior, as I don’t think either was described well enough to justify her cynicism.