Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Confessions of an Improper Bride

Confessions of an Improper Bride by Jennifer Haymore 815

Serena Donovan left London in disgrace after the entire ton discovered that she had carried on an affair with Jonathan Dane, heir to the Earl of Stratford. Serena was in love and was devastated when Jonathan turned his back on her in her time of need and had no choice but to head back to her family's bankrupt estate in Antingua with her twin sister, Meg. On the journey home Meg falls overboard and is lost at sea, but unknown to Serena and her sister's, her mother has Serena declared dead in the London papers and secretly writes to Meg's beau back in England posing as Meg. When Meg's beau proposes, Serena's mother reveals the scheme and sends Serena and one of her sister's back to England to marry, in the hopes that the family's status in society will be elevated enough to send all the sister's to London to make matches. But coming back to London brings her face to face with the man who abandoned her and all the feelings she thought were long gone come bubbling to the surface and she realizes she never stopped loving him, even as she goes along with her mother's charade.

Jonathan has spent every day regretting what he did to Serena, but he was young and his father was threatening to cut him off if he did not abandon her. He has spent the last six years drinking and whoring himself into oblivion and is determined never to read to spite his deceased father and to atone for his belief that he killed Serena. He knows immediately that the woman claiming to be Meg is his Serena and now that he has a second chance with her he has no intention of letting her go, even if her new "fiance" is one of his closest friends. He maneuvers every opportunity to get her alone and convince her to give up the farce she is living and take one more chance on him. Serena is tempted, but worried about what affects her actions will have on her sisters' hopes for the future. It is Jonathan who is there to help her when her sister runs off with an inappropriate man and Serena realizes that Jonathan will be there for her in the long run, even when things don't go perfectly as planned. Both of them need to move on from the past, forgive each other the hurts and the lies, in order to find their happily ever after.

Serena was a very nuanced character with very real emotions and fears and having her pretend to be her sister, the "good" twin, made it more clear that she really needed someone who would be there standing behind her the entire time and love her with all the mistakes that she makes. I liked that she cared about her family and wanted what was best for them, but had enough wherewithal to go for what she needed for herself. Her pain over what happened was heartbreaking to read and I felt like she was completely right to fear getting back with Jonathan, but I did feel like she fell into his arms a little too quickly. She was determined to avoid him and yet it seemed like not time had passed before she was kissing him and I felt like it wasn't realistic for a woman who had had six years to get over a heartbreak and betrayal. Jonathan was not my cup of tea because he had not stood up to his father, which was understandable if not admirable, and then had spent six years being a pretty worthless human being to stick it a dead man. I believe I was supposed to feel like it proved his love to Serena but it was just too much.

Because they had known each other beforehand there was definitely a sense that they falling in love had happened earlier and just drawn over to the present. However, I liked that Serena and Jonathan spent a large amount of time together and when they were apart they were thinking about the other, as if they were influenced by each other in everything. And there were times when I saw reasons they would fall in love with each other, especially when Jonathan helped Serena during a difficult situation with her sister. Their relationship progressed from hostility, to longing, to fearing love, to love and I liked that I could really see into each other those steps. There was not that much sex between them and I was actually rather surprised because it was not as hot as I am used to reading from Haymore who usually blazes the pages. The book featured several very well rounded and very well written side characters, including Meg's fiance, Serena's sister, and their very proper aunt, who made the book complete and helped all 410 pages fly by.

Rating: A good book with two characters scared of not being able to move on from the past, with very genuine emotion and great secondary characters.

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