HOW TO LOSE A BRIDE IN ONE NIGHT – Sophie Jordan
Forgotten Princesses , Book 3
England 1857 or ‘58
Owen Crawford, Earl of McDowell through his Scottish maternal grandfather and the youngest son of the English Earl of Winningham, spurns society, even his older brother. It seems Owen is lately returned from fighting in India where he accumulated a load of guilt for following orders. He's on his way back to London on horseback when he comes across a woman hurt and near drowned on a river bank. He'd much rather not become involved, but what is a man still with noble impulses to do? He rescues the woman and takes her up to find help. He comes upon a Gypsy camp where an old woman agrees to tend the woman who has a broken leg, among other bruises, and is very ill with fever. When she finally comes to she claims she can't remember her past. What she doesn't tell him is that she was strangled and thrown into the river by her fortune-hunting husband of a few hours. She is the still virginal Annalise, Duchess of Bloodworth, a former seamstress and illegitimate daughter of a wealthy father who hoped to buy his way into Society.
HOW TO LOSE A BRIDE IN ONE NIGHT starts off with a bang…or should I say a splash? We have two wounded souls meeting in a highly unconventional manner. They are both wary; he because his past haunts him, she because of the disillusionment of her dream of love and family. Though we do get more of Owen's early life, we get very little of Annalisa's. The plot slows down in the middle as Annalise and Owen and their strained but growing relationship carry most of the story. It's a slow dance of burgeoning awareness and attraction told mainly in narrative. Action picks up toward the last when truths come out.
Very little of the backstory or historical setting is given. I had to guess at the timeframe from a mention of the Sepoys in India and never did learn how Annalise and her father came together. Presumably that was revealed in earlier books of the series. Nor were the minor characters very well developed in this third tale (fourth, if a Valentine novella is counted).
So if you are tantalized by the originality of the plot, I would start at the beginning of the series. You'll find titles at www.sophiejordan.net .