Review of “The Bride Takes a Groom” (The Penhallow Dynasty #3) by Lisa Berne

Berne, Lisa. The Bride Takes a Groom. New York: Avon Books, 2018. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062451828 | 354 pages | Regency Romance 

4.5  stars

Despite her first two books being lackluster, I was willing to give Lisa Berne at least one more chance, as not only did she make her debut last year, but I was excited at the prospect of Hugo’s book, and the fact that she’s an author who gravitated toward untitled heroes, still finding a way to give them influence in society and make them appealing. And that is definitely the case with Hugo, who is also the antithesis of the typical brooding hero that stars in way too many romances. I love that, despite being injured in the war, and then dealing with setbacks throughout the book, he has a sense of optimism when approaching situations, that things can be dealt with. And of course, given he does have a reasonably large family, I do love that he is dedicated to taking care of them.

Instead, it’s Katherine who has more of the troubled past, and I like her character development as she finds a way out of her awful situation with her parents and finds a purpose in life. I especially love the way the crisis at the end finally sees Katherine’s walls crumble, and how these scenes are written as if an unconscious Hugo is hearing her speak them.

There are quite a few characters to keep track of, but the relationships between them are charming and made me interested in learning more about them, while not detracting from the journey these characters take together. I also enjoyed spending some time with familiar chatacters again, and of course we get another English-vs.-Scottish jab, a running joke that never fails to delight, and makes me wonder if, sometime down the line, we will see the two sides of the family together.

The story did lag in places, but for the most part it was an enjoyable and engaging read. Above all, I enjoyed Berne’s tribute both to letters as an art form, and to words in general through the large presence of works of literature, as it demonstrates how, even in our digital age, these things continue to be valued, and in some cases, looked back on with a sense of nostalgia.

Review of “The Laird Takes a Bride” (The Penhallow Dynasty #2) by Lisa Berne

Berne, Lisa. The Laird Takes a Bride. New York: Avon Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-03-245181-1. Print List Price: $7.99

3 stars

Despite finding Lisa Berne’s first book, You May Kiss the Bride, lackluster, I picked up the second book in the series. And I found that I had the same reaction to this one. And while it had its good points, the romance wasn’t really “there” for me.

I think the first mistake was having this book be about Alasdair, who I don’t even remember being a big part of the first book, than about Hugo, who interested me much more. And with his character, I didn’t get the sense there was anything new being brought to the table, as he’s just another angsty, broody hero, who won’t fall in love because he was heartbroken over the woman he loved marrying his brother, and then losing his parents, brother, and sister-in-law after they drowned in the loch. And with Fiona, while I did feel bad for her, as she had such a difficult life at home, I had a hard time believing that she would fall in love with Alasdair, especially since these two ADULTS have constant miscommunications.

I did enjoy that Berne endeavored to immerse us more fully in Highland culture than any other book I’ve read before, setting the book entirely in Scotland with an entirely Highland Scottish cast of characters, imbuing what their perspective might have been at the time. And though I don’t know a lot about clan history and relations, I found the concept of the Tome and the laws within intriguing.

And despite my two disappointing experiences reading Berne’s work, I do hope to see what she produces in the future. From what I have heard from her about Hugo and his book, he is someone who is funny and lighthearted, and much more my speed.