The Knight's Bride

The Wicked Truth

The Wilder Wedding

Bride of Trouville by Lyn Stone
(Harlequin, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29067-5
In Bride of Trouville, the villain of the author's earlier medieval romance, The Knight's Bride, becomes the hero of the sequel. The two books are so closely connected that it's not necessary to have read the first book to understand the action and the character motivation of the second.

Dairmid Hume (the father of the heroine of The Knight's Bride) is still trying to align himself by marriage with Edoard Gillet, comte de Trouville. He suggests that Trouville consider marrying his niece, Lady Anne of Baincroft, in Scotland. Anne is a widow and she and Trouville have sons nearly the same age. Her estate plus her son's should provide a good income.

Trouville has been ordered from the French court by the king and thinks that establishing himself in Scotland at this time might be wise, plus he recognizes the advantages of having a mother for his son. He agrees to meet Anne and consider making her his bride.

Anne has no desire to be married again, but when her uncle leads her to believe that Trouville will be a mostly absent husband, she agrees. An absent husband will allow her to continue to manage as she has and save her from being forced to marry another. Anne's primary motive is protecting the interests of her son, Robert. She fears that Robert may lose his position as future lord of Baincroft if Trouville learns of his deafness. She thinks that she can conceal her son's disability from Trouville for the brief time until he returns to France.

Trouville and Anne are pleased with each other and express an intention that theirs should be a love-match. They are soon wed.

After the wedding night, Anne learns that Trouville intends to remain at Baincroft. She is nearly desperate to keep the truth from him. She can keep Robert out of Trouville's sight for a short time, but how can she keep him from learning the truth if he will be residing in Baincroft? She diverts Trouville's suspicions by providing explanations of Robert's speech and behavior, but she fears that time is against her.

Trouville soon falls in love with his wife, but he finds Robert's behavior and his mother's protectiveness inexplicable. As her love for Trouville grows, Anne's loyalties are increasingly split between her husband and her son.

The weakest element of Bride of Trouville is the plot. The story has a single theme -- Anne's determination to conceal Robert's deafness so that he will not be disinherited -- which it repeats and repeats. At 300 pages, the book tends to bog down in the middle without further development of the story line. I became increasingly impatient for Anne to reveal all so that the story could finally get off its single track and the characters could face new challenges. I was doomed to disappointment.

The book's strongest aspect is its characterization. Both Trouville and Anne are strong, mature characters (albeit a bit one-dimensional). It's not hard to believe that their marriage could grow into a loving one.

I appreciate an author's including a disabled character in a story. (The author's dedication indicates that she is the mother of a deaf son.) Despite his deafness, Robert is an otherwise normal, active boy. (In fact, he seem unusually talented at compensating for his disability given the attitudes and practices of the time.) Neverthess, I had serious reservations that Trouville could remain unaware of Robert's deafness under the circumstances.

Even though Bride of Trouville is most likely to appeal to fans of medieval romances, other readers may appreciate a story with mature characters dealing with conflicting responsibilities.

--Lesley Dunlap

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