Kiera of Lawenydd owes her sister, Elyn, a big favor, and on the eve of Elyn’s wedding. Elyn is going to collect. Years earlier, Elyn saved Kiera’s life and protected her from the wrath of their father. Now Elyn wants Kiera to stand in for Elyn at her wedding to a man she does not know, Lord Kelan of Penbrooke. It’s just for one night, long enough for Elyn to meet her lover one last time and for Kiera to drug Lord Kelan and spill blood on the marriage bed, proof of virginity that Elyn can no longer provide.
Kiera reluctantly agrees and the marriage takes place, but to Kiera’s shock, Lord Kelan is no snaggle-toothed old man, but young and handsome. On the wedding night, Kiera’s plans go awry, and after drinking too much wine, she and Kelan consummate the marriage. Then Elyn fails to reappear and Kiera has no choice but to accompany Kelan to Penbrooke, where Kelan’s dying mother wishes to meet her son’s new wife. Slowly, they begin to fall in love, though Kelan calls her “Elyn”. What will happen when Kelan find out the truth? And what has happened to Elyn?
The familiar plot is livened up a bit with the sub-plot of Elyn, who finds her lover has become engaged to another woman, and now both she and Kiera are pregnant. Elyn has only one choice: return to her “marriage” and take Kiera’s place, a move that will now be impossible, even if Elyn refuses to accept the fact.
Kiera and Kelan are both quite likable characters. Kelan has no idea that the beautiful woman he’s taken to wife is the wrong one, and he falls for his “wife” with a passion that seems quite genuine. Kiera, who falls equally hard for her “husband”, is caught in a terrible trap. She does try to tell Kelan the truth, several times, but is conveniently interrupted. His sisters are suspicious of her. When Elyn finally arrives at Penbrooke, the stage is set for a big showdown.
Likable though the characters may be, the book is quite predictable. Kiera and Kelan are passionately in love, but they don’t trust each other. Elyn is a shrew who basically thinks only of herself. When Kelan finds out the truth, his actions are by the book. Just once, I’d like to see a different reaction on the part of the hero, but a raging case of the sulks seems to be the only thing editors will accept with this plot.
The setting is generic medieval, with the occasional ‘tis and ‘twas thrown into the dialogue and your basic castle backdrop. The lord’s chamber has rushes on the floor. Meats roast on a spit. A beloved old crone messes about with rune stones.
The Impostress is a serviceable romance that breaks no new ground, but is an entertaining read nonetheless. If you haven’t read a medieval romance in a while, you may want to give this one a look.