Reese's Bride by Kat Martin 221
Eight years ago Reese Dewar and Elizabeth Clemens promised each other that they would one day get married and make a life together in Reese's Briarwood estate. But shortly after enlisting in the army Reese returns home to find that Elizabeth has married the Earl of Aldridge and in a fury he unleashes his fury on her and vows to never feel anything about her again. He is convinced she left him to gain a title and a fortune. Her marriage to Aldridge was cruel and he showed no affection for their son Jarred. When he dies Elizabeth believes that her in-laws are trying to kill her to get ahold of Jarred's fortune. With nowhere else to turn Elizabeth runs to Royal for protection and despite the dreadful memories her arrival bring to the surface, Reese's honor prohibits her from turning her and her son away. Elizabeth harbors a dark secret and she is terrified of revealing the truth to Reese: Jared is actually his son and she had really only married Aldridge because she had been terrified and her father had finally managed to pressure her into it.
In addition to his duties protecting Elizabeth, Reese receives notice that his friend Travis is being investigated as a possible Russian spy. Reese knows that Travis is no spy but he has angered the wrong man in government and his mother was a Russian ballerina. Reese, Royal, and Royal's friends set out to prove that Travis is innocent and to find a way to stop Elizabeth's in laws from harming her or her son. Reese decides the best way to protect Jarred would be to marry Elizabeth and adopt Jarred and after the wedding all the old feelings the two had felt for each other begin to come back full force and a new passion that had not been there before is nearly overwhelming. When threats against Jared's life continues Elizabeth begins proceedings to have Jared abdicate his title and eventually tells Reese that he is the real father. The situation with Travis is cleared up quite uneventfully when Rule sleeps with the accuser's wife and finds out some interesting secrets. When the abdication request is denied, the situation with the in-laws is left for a bloody late night fight where Reese has to defend his wife and his son. However it is only when he can move on and admit his love for Elizabeth that the little family can truly be happy.
I feel as though many of the problems I had with this book were also present in "Royal's Bride" although they were heavily overshadowed there by the great plot, well written characters, and the sexy romance. Because the characters here underwent next to no actual character development, a stagnant romance, and a side plot that did not draw me in- these problems became far too obvious. The dialogue was stilted and unrealistic at best and I marked several pages down as "What did s/he just say?" I understand people used to talk differently but no- no one ever spoke like that and if they did I do not want to read about them. The Oarsman, friends of Royal's from his Oxford days where mentioned and described in detail throughout the book making me wonder if she thought we had amnesia or if she did. Doing this also made me wonder if she was setting herself up for another series and if so it is one I do not care to read. Another thing both book had copious amounts of was "gentle, caring, and kind" women who all formed a great bond and became the bestest of best friends. It was a little to saccharine.
In addition there were quite a few problems that were unique to this book. Because the character's had known each other for years the whole falling in love thing seemed to have taken place behind the scenes. Normally I'm left rather confused as to why the heroine fell in love with the hero but in this book I had the opposite problem. Elizabeth left him and married a man who mistreated her and his son and yet Reese can't get over his feelings for her. Meanwhile Reese is forgiving, he really steps in and saves the day and proves himself to be a top notch father. While the side plot in Royal's Bride was interesting and unique the "find the spy" plot here was just too pat and I am getting sick of spy plots. Contributing to this was the way underdeveloped "romance" between Travis and a random woman named Annabelle that really just came across as a space waster. I know Jared was described as a little young for his age but I swear he acted much more like a four year old than an 8 year old even accounting for the changes children have undergone in the last 150 years.
Rating: I know I had almost nothing good to say about this book but I did not absolutely hate it. It had it's very brief entertaining moments but they were far outweighed by ridiculous bad-ness.