The Christmas Clock

Dangerous Passions

Desert Heat

The Devil's Necklace

The Dream
Fanning the Flame

The Fire Inside

Heartless

Midnight Sun

Hot Rain

Night Secrets

Perfect Sin

Royal's Bride

The Secret

Scent of Roses

Silk & Steel

 
Rule's Bride
by Kat Martin
(Mira, $7.99, R)  ISBN 978-0-77832-774-5
***
It was a so-called marriage of commerce. When Violet Griffin's father discovered he had a terminal illness, he approached Rule Dewar in the hopes of securing his sixteen-year-old daughter's future. His proposition included Violet marrying Rule immediately, Rule thus acquiring half of Griffin's profitable arms business. The marriage, to remain unconsummated until Violet reached her majority, would ensure a profitable future for both Dewar and for Violet.

Rule, the youngest and most feckless of the three Dewar brothers, has a multitude of reservations but accepts Griffin's offer for three reasons: his genuine respect and affection for Griffin, respect for a dying request from his own father, and a personal desire to be his own man.

Three years later, Rule is living the same kind of life he had led his entire adult life and putting little thought – besides the occasional guilt for avoiding the situation – into his young wife. However, when Violet appears unexpectedly from Boston, he is surprised to learn that Violet is even less interested in their marriage than he has been. Despite having ignored her since their wedding day, Rule cannot let that happen for pride's sake or for the sake of the business. Unexpectedly, Rule instantly discovers an attraction to Violet that he is determined to act upon. Violet shoots him down, however, with her plans to annul.

Violet traveled to London to fulfill two plans: one, to end her marriage to the scoundrel who all but abandoned her, and two, to sell her half of Griffin Arms. Violet refuses to have any part in the killing of people during the war that everyone in 1860 knows is brewing in the United States. When Rule convinces Violet to stay for a month so he can convince her to make the move permanent, she knows it's a mistake. One night, while at the theatre, the two are involved in a fatal fire, and with only thoughts of survival in mind, they consummate the marriage.

Now, stuck in a loveless marriage and in London as well, Violet demands to take her place beside Rule in the business, even if it is an American way of doing things in a very old-world London. When scandal drives Violet's cousin Caroline into a hasty marriage, Violet is secretly glad that it will keep her only companion nearby.  However, scandal strikes again and in a way that even friends cannot aide in when Rule is arrested for the murder of the businessman to whom Griffin Arms was to be sold. And, as Caroline's scandal made her realize just how much she could care for someone, Rule's brings home to Violet how much she has come to love the last man on earth she expected to be with—her husband.

Though not as tepid as Reese's Bride, the third in Martin's “Bride” trilogy lacks the intrigue and the flair for fun of the first in the series, Royal's Bride.  The cast of characters will by now be familiar, and both intriguing romances – Rule's with Violet and Caroline's with Rule's friend Luke – have rocky starts and bumpy roads to their happy endings. A good read for the impending summer as well as for fans of historicals, trilogies, or Kat Martin who is a shining star in the genre.

--Sarrah Knight


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