Thursday, May 28, 2009

Review: Duke Most Wanted by Celeste Bradley

The third in the Regency set historical Heiress Bride series, I don't think I've read the first or second offerings by Bradley. In the series, grandfather Pickering has left his considerable fortune to the first of his granddaughters to marry a duke. Sisters Phoebe and Deirdre find their loves in the previous two books and with one of the men being the heir to a dukedom, it seems as if cousin Sophie has less than no chance to inherit her grandfather's fortune. But that's fine with her as she's been secretly in love with her best friend, Graham, for ages and he's just the third son with no expectations of inheriting. But fate has other plans, as Graham's father and dumb as posts brothers all die on a safari, leaving the terribly impoverished dukedom to Graham. Now he needs an heiress and while he doesn't know of Sophie's potential inheritance, she knows she is just what he needs. Of course, as Graham grapples with his inheritance, Sophie is busy being transformed from ugly duckling to swan, drawing notice from all the ton. She really only wants to captivate Graham although she won't trust even him with her deepest secrets. Can she marry him, claim the inheritance, and live happily ever after?

While this is a well-written romance, as Bradley's works generally are, I can't get over the huge plot twist she throws into the works, making the interior thoughts of one of the characters completely and patently untrue. Unless the author's intention was drawing said character as completely unhinged, believing in their own concocted story, this didn't really work. I was reading along happily, enjoying Sophie's long-suffering love for Graham and his dawning attraction (could it be love?) towards her when I was walloped in the face with this enormous twist, placed in the narrative solely to push the happily ever after out farther and to require some convoluted wrangling to make that ending still happen. I. Didn't. Appreciate. It. At. All. And not because I am averse to well done plot twists. I'm not. This one came out of thin air (one small foreshadowed comment on page one doesn't make it believable) and made the character in question completely suspect, especially since this immense twist was never acknowledged, even when the character was speaking internally. The resolution of this enormous plot twist was well done but I can't get over being rankled by its necessity. Color me grumpy but as a result, I can't wholeheartedly recommend this one.

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