Though he is a titled nobleman, Royal Dewar is singularly unlucky …forced to choose between his soul mate …and his salvation.
After years abroad, Royal has returned to Bransford Castle to find his father dying and the family treasury nearly empty. Then the old duke wrests a final promise from his guilt-ridden son: that Royal will marry heiress Jocelyn Caulfield and restore the estate to its former glory. However, it is not his fiancée who quickens Royal’s pulse, but rather her beautiful cousin Lily Moran.
Penniless Lily knows that nothing can come of their undeniable attraction―but there is a way she can help Royal. Enlisting some questionable characters from her past, Lily concocts an elaborate ruse to recover some of the Bransford fortune from a notorious confidence artist. As the dangerous scheme unfolds, Lily and Royal are thrown together in pursuit of the very thing―money―that keeps them part…
The back cover blurb of this book summarizes the book perfectly so there’s no need to write one just to repeat what the blurb says and I’ll get right down to business. ROYAL’S BRIDE is great historical romance in which I was easily and effortlessly introduced to the Duke of Bransford’s three sons: Royal, Reese and Rule Dewar, whom after their father’s death are compelled to fulfill their father’s dying wishes. This first book of the Bride’s trilogy focuses on the eldest son. He is to marry a wealthy heiress in order to have funds to restore the Bransford seat in its former glory. But things don’t always happen as we wish or plan and when Royal falls in love with his fiancée’s companion, restoring the family’s fortune seems to the least of his worries.
Although the plot of forced marriage and forbidden love lends room for characters who can be annoying, whining etc…Kat Martin avoids that trap and delivers a main couple that is extremely likable despite the initial illegality of their feelings. Royal Deware is passionate, loyal and dutiful. Even when he knows his heart belongs to Lily he cannot put his father’s dying wish aside carelessly. There was a point in the book where I thought he could have restrained himself better physically but on the other hand it would have surprised me if he had, since the whole forbidden love trope would’ve lost its strength and its purpose. Lily is sweet and caring but also toughened by the life she’s led. She doesn’t let anyone walk over her and is not one to impulsively give into her feelings, not even the strong ones she has for Royal. She is genuinely kindhearted and realistic. She’d rather not have Royal in her life than be with him and betray her family, even if that family doesn’t always treat her right.
There are quite a few secondary characters in this book, but it never felt overcrowded or too much because they all had their roles in the plot and/or romance. One secondary character that pleasantly surprised me in terms of character development was Jocelyn, Royal’s fiancée. Throughout the book she grew from a spoiled, shallow and materialistic girl that I really didn’t care for to a woman who earned my sympathy because she too had been pressured into a situation she didn’t ask for and in the end she did turn out to be sensible and mature. And then there were The Oarsmen, a group of intriguing friends surrounding Royal. They are a diverse group of men, all noblemen, some higher ranked than others, but it’s a tight night group who prove loyal friends to both Royal and Lily.
I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing 4 books by Kat Martin for ROOB now and I must say that ROYAL’S BRIDE is my favorite of the 4. Even though the premise arranged marriage and forbidden love isn’t new or original Kat Martin wrote a story around it that was definitely refreshing. I loved the way she set up this book. The romance, the forbidden attraction, the plot, the characters, they all complemented each other and together formed an excellent, high quality historical romance. One that is intriguing and complicated and compelled me to keep turning the pages to know not if but how Lily and Royal were going to end up together, because that the were going to end up together was clear from the beginning. I was curious how Kat Martin was going have them deal with the Jocelyn (Royal’s fiancée) situation, the financial problem and still give the reader a satisfactory solution and a HEA. My worries were unfounded because Kat Martin pulled it of perfectly.
With ROYAL’S BRIDE Kate Martin delivered a historical romance I could savor and enjoy with wonderful characters, a refreshing take on an age-old trope in romance novels and a carefully dosed amount of conflict and angst, that was never over the top. She even managed to imbed a suspense plot that did not intrude on the romance at all. In fact, romance and suspense complemented each other perfectly.
Finally, in this book intriguing hints are given in regard to Royal’s brothers Reese and Rule and those hints are enough to make me curious about their stories and whether they’ll be as enjoyable reads as ROYAL’S BRIDE was.
Rating: 8.3 out of 10
(ROOB Rating: 4 stars)