The Bad Luck Bride: The Cavensham Heiresses #1 by Janna MacGregor

The Bad Luck Bride: The Cavensham Heiresses #1 by Janna MacGregor

Debut author Janna MacGregor comes to the blog today with the first in her Regency-era romance, the first in The Cavensham Heiresses series. Please read on for my review and an excerpt, and be sure to enter the blog exclusive giveaway where you could win a paperback copy of the title (US Only). But first

The Bad Luck Bride

As I started off, I was thrown by the development of the hero in Alex: vengeful, determined and more than a bit controlling, he was a character that I instantly found dislikable and while I appreciated MacGregor’s attempt to bring a deeply flawed and wounded character to redemption, I had reservations. And then I met Claire: constantly thinking of herself as cursed, with yet another engagement exploding in a most unusual way: with the rather mousey and innocuous introduction, I didn’t see compelling, and worried that Alex would be one who manipulated and reframed So the whole “curse” passed me by, unless one is referring to it in terms of social position, and there, Claire is cursed with being a woman at a time when her purpose in life is to marry well, and personal choice is not an option.

So we move on and at about the 50% mark the story started to show great flashes of promise in the writing: complex ideas, a bit more character development and the backstories are slowly revealed and bring an option to find more depth in the characters than in my initial impressions. But, the continued “we’ll discuss this later” moments, combined with constant interruptions from others, all playing out against Alex’s continued manipulation of situations and Claire: lying to her, watching her to “help her” (ick) and never really listening just rubbed me wrong. Claire was equally to blame, whether the attention (when she got it) from Alex is what she wanted, or she was just so ingrained to be “married” that she was willing to convince herself that she felt love for him – I missed that connection or those moments from Alex that didn’t feel proscribed or convenient. And when Alex’s duplicity is discovered, and everything that Claire thought was solid dissolved into ash, she leaves – a completely understandable reaction and one that moved her from mouse to kitten. Of course, Alex has his epiphany and realizes he loves her beyond measure, but the damage done early on just didn’t seem to allow for this option to me. Sure, it’s fiction and meant to end in a happy ever after, love you forever moment – but with all of the twists, the deception and the bad behavior –I wasn’t convinced.

As a debut offering, it showed promise, although it decidedly left room for improvement: a few plot holes and perhaps a few too many twists and interruptions as the couple’s connection should have been more palpable and believable, with Alex’s realization that his actions and behavior are in need of adjustment did not come soon enough, and I felt as though his realizations were too little and more about his losing than realizing his behavior pushed her away, and he needed to change that before making new attempts. Story flow was uneven, starting with a bit of a bang, the back and forth and twists dragged on – where I expected development and palpable emotions I didn’t find it, and the story didn’t really bring those moments where I needed to know what came next. There is promise here, as MacGregor can write a wonderful description, and does integrate historic norms and information with flair, her conversations are solid and the secondary characters did arrive with enough intrigue to know more, all good things when looking for a new author. I’m curious about the next book in the series, finding this one promising even as it didn’t feel as fully realized as I would have hoped.

The Bad Luck Bride: The Cavensham Heiresses #1 by Janna MacGregor

Title: The Bad Luck Bride
Author: Janna MacGregor
Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #1
Also in this series: The Bride Who Got Lucky
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, Setting: Britain
Published by: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250116120
Published on: 2 May, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 368
Rated: three-half-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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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?

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.


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 Janna MacGregor

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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