I’d like to extend my thanks to St. Martin’s Press for not only letting me participate in this tour event, but also for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date Released: May 2, 2017
Series: The Cavensham Heiress #1
IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed he needs to convince his enemy s fiancee, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.
Lady Claire s curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?
The first in an all new historical romance series by a debut author, I enjoyed reading this novel, though I shall admit that I often found myself frustrated with both characters to the point where I wanted to throw my paws up and growl. That being said, this is a good start to what I feel is a promising series, and I believe fans of the genre will enjoy it. The writing is strong, the characters are varied and complex, and the plot twists enough to leave readers guessing. As a debut novelist, MacGregor’s got a great deal of talent and potential, and I can see this series getting better with each book that is released.
Claire’s lead a rough life, and being “cursed” hasn’t helped her. She’s a sweet soul who dreams of marriage and a family to call her own, but she’s tormented by a tragic event from her childhood and several failed engagements. I truly felt for her throughout most of the book. It’s not easy to overcome a fear that stems from such a terrible event, but Claire tries and knows that she has to overcome it, and so I have to give purrs of support for it. Yet I also was frustrated with her because of her strong belief in the curse. I wanted to smack her a few times with my paw in order to get her to realize that life happens, and just because three engagements failed doesn’t mean she’s cursed. It simply means they’re not the paths she was meant to travel. Yet she insists she’s cursed, and the ton doesn’t help quell that belief. Alex, meanwhile, is a man dedicated to protecting his family and avenging his sister, going so far as to not being concerned if others are hurt in the process. He’s charming, and while I feel that he genuinely cares about Claire, his behavior and actions made him unworthy of her in my eyes. He’s one of those characters whom I loved at times and despised at others, and by the end of the book I had a grudging respect for him…doesn’t mean that I don’t think he deserve a good swipe across the face with my claws.
As a romantic couple they are exactly what the other needs in the sense that Claire’s the guiding, gentle hand that drives Alex to realize his mistakes and actively work to repair the damage caused by them, and Alex is the one who helps Claire realize the curse is folly and helps soothe her fears, he’s patient with her while others aren’t or wouldn’t be. My biggest complaint about them as a couple is that neither of them actually talks about their problems. They dance around the issues, misunderstanding the other and sometimes even presuming the worst. By the time they finally do confide in the other I just shook my head and sighed because by then I felt any person lacking in patience would have walked away from the other a long time ago. Now I’m not saying that I disliked their relationship, they actually have a number of steamy, whisker curling moments together that left me purring in delight, but I do feel that theirs is one of the most frustrating relationships that I’ve read in a while.
For secondary characters, I’m rather curious about Emma, Will, and McCalpin, Claire’s cousins, and am looking forward to reading their stories when they come out. Lord Paul is a snake, and I didn’t find any real redeeming quality in him. As Claire says, no one held a pistol to Paul’s head, so as far as his actions and behavior goes, while some may feel he got the short end of the stick in this book, I believe he never would have made a good husband for Claire and he only would have used her in the end. Aileen is a spitfire sweetheart and I loved her immensely for her dedication to Claire. Would love to see more of her if possible. And Somerton, being the voice of reason, earned my respect, it’s just a shame Alex was too bull-headed to listen to him most of the time.
As I said, this was an enjoyable read. Yes, there were times where the story lagged and yes, I grew frustrated with the characters, but I had a great many moments where I found myself laughing, smiling, nodding in approval, and cheering. The book also took a few twists that I wasn’t originally expecting, certain things mentioned in the earlier chapters about Claire lead me to believe one thing when in fact the actual truth wasn’t something I’d thought to consider at all. In this I have to give a tail wave of approval to the author for keeping me guessing where Claire is concerned.
On the whole I would say that while I am not bowled over by this book, I did enjoy it enough to want to continue with the series and see how MacGregor improves as a writer. She has promise and potential, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what she has in store for everyone next, murr! =^.^=
Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.
She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”
This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”
“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.
“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.
“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.
Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.
A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.
Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.
Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”
She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.
Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.
A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.
With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.
A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.
“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.
“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.
With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.
He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.
Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.
“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”
Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.
Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.
The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”
A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.
Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
About the Author:
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.
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