Review: First Season/ Bride to Be by Jane Ashford

first season bride to beReviewed by Shelly

Both of these historical romances are by the same author, Jane Ashford and brand new to me. I really enjoyed the second story, Bride to Be, much more than I did the first.

First Season was initially published in 01/1984 and I thought there was a significant difference in the writing from the second story. Lady Anabel Wyndham is a young widow with 3 children. She didn’t have a coming out season before her first marriage as it was an arranged marriage, but she’s not so lucky this time around. During the parties, dances and dinners she meets Sir Charles Norbury. Charles isn’t looking for a match made in heaven; in fact, he’s not really looking at all, but he’s smitten with Anabel. She’s different than what he’s used to. While Charles and Anabel’s romance is taking off, Anabel’s longtime friend, Christopher Hanford, comes to the city looking for Anabel.

This was a hard read for me. It’s a pretty boring and benign story that probably could have been better. As a mother, I like Anabel. She cared about her children and always wanted to do the right thing for them. As a heroine, Anabel is so boring. She lets things happen around her with very little input. I didn’t think her infatuation with Charles was based on his personality; it seemed more based on the aesthetics.

Charles was a total jerk. He didn’t like Anabel’s kids and it surprised me how she didn’t notice that. I’m not even sure what Charles’ character was supposed to provide to the plot. There was way too much time wasted on their romance; I would have much more interested if Christopher was more prominent. I wish I would have known more about Christopher’s background; his cousin wasn’t a good substitute.

By the time Anabel and Christopher discovered their feelings for each other I was really ready for this story to end.

Rating: D

Initially published in 08/1999, Bride to Be was a much better story. The pace was much faster and the characters much more interesting. Emily Crane is making her London Season debut. She’s the daughter of painters, which makes her a bit of an outcast because of the transient lifestyle that her parents couldn’t seem to avoid. Staying with her mother’s sister during her debut, Emily’s enjoying herself, as long as she keeps out of trouble and says all the right things. Lord Richard Sheldon has recently returned from a wayward trip that left him stranded and fending for himself in a faraway jungle. Richard has a title, but he’s poor and knows that he can never be the provider that Emily needs in a husband.

Emily’s independent and smart. She’s had to be because her parents are just plain flighty. Her father thinks that all things end and begin with his paintings and her mother thinks that all things end and being with her father. Somewhere in there, between the 3 of them, Emily manages to turn out to be a woman who can think on her feet.

After their initial meeting in the country, during which Emily saved Richard’s life, they meet again in London, and although Emily and Richard are clearly attracted to each other, there are a few things standing in the way of the HEA – Richard’s bad attitude towards his situation and Emily’s misplaced dedication to keeping Richard alive. The back and forth between these two was fun. I really enjoyed Emily’s honesty with Richard. There wasn’t a lot of shy head-ducking. Emily really stood up for herself and what she thought was the right thing to do. Nice!

I even liked Richard and his cantankerousness; it’s always nice to see them brought to their knees. But what really sold me was the plot. There was enough mystery and action that kept this story moving. I’ll admit I didn’t guess the right bad guy, so for that – well done.

Rating: B

Happy Reading Folks!

Overall Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Click to purchase: Amazon

First Season/ Bride to Be
by Jane Ashford
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

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