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The Bad Luck Bride: The Brides of St. Ives #1 by Jane Goodger

The Bad Luck Bride: The Brides of St. Ives #1 by Jane Goodger

I’d first encountered Jane Goodger at the tail end of her Lords and Ladies series: now with the new Brides of St. Ives series set in the Victorian era brings me another opportunity. Please read on for my review of

The Bad Luck Bride

With three failures to reach the altar – one death, one fortune-hunter and one leaving her in a church without a groom, Alice, granddaughter of a Duke is not only humiliated by the men, but the papers have chimed in dubbing her “the Bad-Luck Bride” and leaving her the object of whispers and speculation. Poor Alice, while not heartsick, she is humiliated, thanking the stars that her last marriage failure happened in London and not at her home in St. Ives. So marriage isn’t in her cards – she’s not going to stick around for a fourth – she’s heading back home to adjust her life to the quieter pursuits available to an unmarried woman of her time.

I adored Alice – seriously adored her: she wasn’t in love with any of the men she was to marry, so there was little whinging and wailing about that – in fact, she’s almost removed herself from love since the disappearance of her brother’s best friend and her first and everlasting crush, after her brother’s death. This is one of those ‘compare them all’ sort of things for her, and no one could even come close to her memories of him. And then, he appears and Alice’s world is turned on its ear.

Henderson has returned to St. Ives after a long absence, hoping to see Alice, the woman he’s been in love with for years. He’s never spoken to that love, or even really thought it possible: there are too many obstacles. A bustard, he’s struggled with the shame and questions all of his life, and while he and Joseph (Alice’s brother) were best friends and almost inseparable, Joseph had asked for Henderson’s promise to never touch Alice. Now racked with guilt over Joseph’s death and believes that it was his fault that Joseph killed himself, or did he?

SO much goodness here: Henderson without the inherited titles and outward ‘suitability’ so demanded by Alice’s family, he’s far more honorable than most of the tonne, and so desperately in love with Alice that it’s easy to see. And her blossoming in his company, with love and admiration radiating off her in waves. So darn sweet and wonderfully plotted as we learn of Henderson’s struggles with his own birth, the friendship with Joseph and his enduring affection for Alice. Then we see Alice taking more control of her own life and choices, to actually recognize and acknowledge the connection between them that is so perfectly fitted they are pieces in the same puzzle. With clever twists and a touch of mystery surrounding Joseph’s death, the unfolding of Henderson’s past and perspective and Alice’s growth in her own struggles and with her choices, the story was clever and engaging, and a wonderful start to a new series.

The Bad Luck Bride: The Brides of St. Ives #1 by Jane Goodger

Title: The Bad Luck Bride
Author: Jane Goodger
Series: The Brides of St. Ives #1
Genre: Historical Romance, Setting: Britain, Victorian
Published by: Lyrical Press
ISBN: 1516101529
Published on: 13 June, 2017
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 224
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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About the Book:

The Brides of St. Ives

Welcome to St. Ives, the charming seaside town where even a down-on-her luck bride might find her way back to love . . .

As if being left at the alter for the third time isn’t bad enough, Lady Alice Hubbard has now been dubbed “The Bad Luck Bride” by the London newspapers. Defeated, she returns to her family’s estate in St. Ives, resolved to a future as a doting spinster. After all, a lady with her record of marital mishaps knows better than to dream of happily-ever-after. But then Alice never expects to see Henderson Southwell again. Her beloved brother’s best friend disappeared from her life soon after her brother’s death. Until now . . .

Alice is just as achingly beautiful as Henderson remembers. And just as forbidden. For the notorious ladies’ man made one last promise to Alice’s brother before he died—and that was never to pursue her. But one glimpse of Alice’s sorrow and Henderson feels a powerful urge to put the light back in her lovely eyes, one lingering kiss at a time. Even if it means falling in love with the one woman he can never call his bride . . .

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

 

If only her fiancé had died five minutes after the ceremony instead of five minutes before, Alice wouldn’t be in her current, unfathomable, situation.

A terrible thought, yes, but there was never a truer sentiment to go through her mind.

He was late. Her current and very much alive fiancé was terribly, horribly, embarrassingly late, and the vicar was giving her sad looks and the congregation was whispering, and Alice felt like she might scream for them all to just shut up. Harvey Reginald Heddingford III, Viscount Northrup, whom she actually liked (the first of her three fiancés whom she actually had liked) had apparently grown ice cold feet.

It wasn’t much of a surprise, actually.

The night before he’d seemed … off. Distracted. Overly nice. Guilty. That’s when the first niggling feeling of doubt touched her but she forced herself to ignore it. Certainly three men couldn’t leave her at the altar. Though to be fair, Bertram Russell, her second ill-fated fiancé, was ousted by her enraged father long before she’d set foot in the church. Bertram had been found out — not one week before their planned nuptials — to be a complete fraud. He made ordinary fortune hunters seem like innocent children dabbling at seducing marriage out of highly placed, rich women.

One dead. One fraud. One very, very late.

This could not be happening again. She stood in the vestibule with her father and sister, dread slowly wrapping around her like a toxic fog, making it almost impossible to breathe. As she waited for her groom to make an appearance, knowing he would not, Alice vowed she would never, ever, be put in this position again. When she saw Vicar Jamison coming toward the spot where she stood with her father, Alice knew it was over. She couldn’t seem to gather the energy to cry and in fact had the terrible urge to laugh, something she sometimes did at the worst possible moment. Actually, other than feeling a bit off kilter and extremely humiliated, she felt nothing at all. Certainly not heartbroken.

“Lord Hubbard,” the vicar said, giving her father a small bow. “It may be time to address the congregation.”

Her dear, dear, papa looked at her, his eyes filled with sorrow. “I think I must.”

Alice nodded and pressed her hands, still holding her silly bouquet, into her stomach. God, the humiliation. This was far worse than Bertram and, well, poor Lord Livingston was deemed a tragedy, not a humiliation. People at least felt sorry for her when her first ill-fated husband-to-be dropped dead waiting for her to walk down the aisle. Just five more minutes and she might have been a widow, and a widow was a far better thing to be than a jilted bride.

It was all her sister’s fault. Christina had been fussing with her gown, fixing something in the bustle, insisting that Alice would never get the chance to be a bride again (what a lark) and everything must be absolutely perfect for that most important day when Alice would have become a baroness. And then Lord Livingston died, right then, right as he walked toward the front of the church. Dropped like a stone without warning and was dead before he hit the hard marble floor with a sickening thud.

Instead of Lady Livingston or Lady Northrup, she was still Miss Hubbard and it looked like she would be Miss Hubbard for the rest of her days.

Christina stood, eyes wide with horror, as their father walked slowly to the front of the church. The large room became deathly quiet, and Alice turned, grabbed her sister’s arm, and walked out the front door of the church. She couldn’t bear to see the pity in their eyes, nor the tears in her mother’s. Certainly Mama had never suspected her eldest daughter would once again be abandoned by her groom. Thank God they’d decided to get married in London and not St. Ives, where the villagers would have likely gathered to celebrate her marriage. No one was about except for the normal crowds.

“I’ll murder him,” Christina said feelingly when they reached their carriage. The startled footman hurriedly dropped the steps and then handed the sisters into the carriage, which was meant to carry the happy couple to their wedding breakfast.

Alice tore off her veil then gave her ferocious sister a weak smile. “I think he was in love with Patricia Flemings.”

“No!” Christina said with the conviction of someone who cannot accept the fact that anyone could choose a Flemings over a Hubbard. Their father, Lord Richard Hubbard, was the third son of the fifth Duke of Warwick, and though he held no title, his connection to the great duke had put their family firmly in the lofty realm of the ton. Christina adored working “my grandfather, the Duke of Warwick” into as many conversations as possible, no matter what the topic. At eighteen, Christina was looking forward to her first season and was no doubt wondering how this latest wedding debacle with her sister would hurt her chances of making a good match.

Alice realized she was officially a hopeless case, and would no doubt become the terrible punch line to jokes told from Nottinghamshire to Cornwall. You’ve heard of Alice Hubbard — or is it Miss Havisham? Charles Dickens had done her no favor by portraying a jilted bride as such a bitterly tragic character. Alice didn’t feel bitter, at least not at the moment, but she suspected she could not escape the label of ‘tragic.’

Now she would have to hide away for a time at their country estate in St. Ives, which wasn’t such a sacrifice, as St. Ives was her favorite place in all the world. Perhaps in her elder years she could be chaperone to her sister’s beautiful daughters. She would be known by them as “my poor spinster aunt who never found love.”

Three fiancés and she had hardly tolerated any of them, never mind loved them. She’d only loved one man in her life but he, of course, did not love her. And that, perhaps, was the most humiliating thing of all. Henderson Southwell, entirely inappropriate and devastatingly handsome. She called him Henny, which irritated him hugely, and that, of course, was why she did it. To say he was her one love was a bit of an exaggeration, for she now recognized her feelings for what they had been: youthful infatuation. But goodness, her heart had sped up whenever she heard his voice and nearly jumped from her chest when she actually saw him. Ah, the tall, lean, dark, handsome glory of him. She’d known Henderson for years and had fallen in love with him when she was seventeen or perhaps even before. Perhaps she’d fallen in love with him on those quiet nights when they would talk in the library while the rest of the house was sound asleep. He was her brother Joseph’s closest friend, which delegated her immediately to that invisible moniker of little sister.

 

 

About Jane Goodger

I grew up in western Massachusetts and have lived most my adult life in New England. Thanks to my adventurous husband, I've also done brief stints in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Naples, Italy. Although I've written four contemporary romances under the name Jane Blackwood, my first love is historical romances set in Victorian times. I've written 13 of those with more on the way.

I have three kids, one in college, one a great drummer, and one an artist. I love the Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I work full time, have an editing business, and in my free time write like a fanatic.

Above the desk in my office is this sign: "And They All Lived Happily Ever After." It may not be reality, but it's real nice to think about...

 

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