Monday, February 22, 2016

The Improper Bride by Lily Maxton

Cold, arrogant, and demanding Lord Henry Eldridge, Marquess of Riverton, would never dally with a mere servant. But when Henry is injured in a horrible fire, his pretty housekeeper Cassandra nurses him back to health, throwing them together day and night. As he slowly heals from his burns, their friendship blossoms, and the class walls between them start to crumble. Cassandra is surprised by glimpses of a kind and thoughtful man beneath her employer’s hard fa├žade—and even more surprised when she develops tender feelings for him. But anything between lord and servant is impossible...and besides, as a widow, she knows love only leads to heartbreak.

Henry is changing, as well. His close brush with death has opened his eyes to his self-imposed emotional isolation...and has urgently reminded him of his duty to marry a well-bred lady and produce an heir. Determined to do right by his family name, he immediately begins searching for a suitable bride. But Cassandra is the only woman who is never far from his mind or his heart. Contrary to everything he’s been taught to believe, he realizes his lovely housekeeper might just be his perfect match. Now, if only he could convince everyone else of that. Especially Cassandra...

Series: Sisters of Scandal #5 | Publisher: Scandalous, an imprint of Entangled| Release Date: January 25, 2016 | Genre: Historical Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2 Cups

Challenges Read For: Pick Your Own Genre: Historical

Here’s what’s going on. When Henry, Marquess of Riverton, is injured in a fire, his housekeeper Cassandra is tasked with the job of keeping him occupied while he convalesces. Rather than just sitting idly around, Cassandra chooses to use this to her advantage and persuades Henry to teach her German. While Henry and Cassandra grow closer, Henry’s near-death experience has reminded him that he needs to settle down and produce an heir so the hunt for a well-bred wife begins. Although he soon discovers that no woman can compare to Cassandra, but will he be able to overlook the fact she’s his housekeeper.
I enjoyed the first half of this book. The pacing was steady, the characters were enjoyable, and I was eager to see how Henry and Cassandra were going to react to each other.  And I really liked Cassandra, she’s a bit older than the heroines you see in historical romances, she’s a widow but not afraid to fall in love again, she’s smart, determined, and not afraid to stand up to Henry.
Henry was arrogant, gruff, broody, rude, and just a complete and utter tosser. Yet, in the beginning, I found him extremely likable. He’s doesn’t really know how to love due to the way his parents sort of kept him at arm’s length and how they would shower him with gifts rather than affection.
I struggled a bit with the conflict and ended up finding it lacking and a bit annoying. It revolved around the class issue—he was a Marquess, she was his housekeeper—so they were constantly fretting about how society would react to them. While I could understand the source of the conflict, especially in that era, it grew annoying because it was constantly brought up.
So, I enjoyed 59% of the book, then it was revealed that Henry had gotten his mistress pregnant and was happy to sit back and ignore the fact his former mistress was carrying his child. I mean, seriously a secret pregnancy?!? And I was really liking Henry up to this point. I was expecting that revelation to spur the conflict, but it never did. Cassandra more or less shrugged it off.
At that point, I nearly DNF’d the book and honestly, I probably should have because I struggled to get back into the story.
Overall, parts of The Improper Bride reminded me of Jane Eyre: Henry’s behavior, the fire, the servant/master relationship, Henry’s hunt for a wife and the way he paraded his choices for a bride in front of Cassandra. Yet Henry’s treatment of his pregnant former mistress completely ruined the book for me.

Secret baby/pregnancy trope, love it or hate it?

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