Sunday, April 4, 2010

the historical romance of the elusive bride by stephanie laurens; a regency romp

Stephanie Laurens is one of Australia's most popular romance fiction authors, in fact, she's been voted the country's favourite romance author at least once.
In The Elusive Bride, Laurens continues the intrigue and romance begun in The Untamed Bride, the first book in her new The Black Cobra Quartet.
Just about all Laurens' books are set in Regency England – lots of dashing heroes, feisty maidens and talk about a 'well-turned leg', highwaymen and inheritances. Exactly the right ingredients for fabulous historical novels.
Now, while the general details of history and dress may be correct in Laurens' books, there is a touch of unreality in the actions of many of the women she describes. It seems that what is generally believed, historically, to have been the social mores and niceties of Regency England, things like no sex before marriage and a complete lack of knowledge about such sex, don't exist in these tales of romance.
While the swashbuckling gentlemen of Laurens' books appear mostly true to historical records, her heroines are much more modern – why, they even seem to go about having affairs and seducing said swashbuckling heroes.
This is great for the story, but perhaps not so historical.If this sort of thing bothers you, then Laurens' romances may not be for you. Still, Laurens' books are fiction and in every good romance there should be a bit of fantasy, right?
So, The Elusive Bride opens with Miss Emily Ensworth racing down a dusty hill in India clasping an important document to her heaving bosom, while blood-thirsty natives chase her. Oh yes, these books tend to be more than a little 'politically incorrect”.

By the way, Emily is in India to find herself a suitable husband. Apparently she's managed to go through all the eligible gentlemen in England and so is reduce to tracking one down in the colonies.
Emily escapes the natives, thanks to the self-sacrifice of a swashbuckling hero, and finds herself meeting up with a group of surly British officers; one of which makes a definite impact on our Emily.
The book proceeds with a feisty Emily deciding that she may have met her 'one' and her attempts to track him down and find out if he's the man she will marry. The poor bloke, of course, knows nothing about this. He's just got to put up with Emily adding herself to his very dangerous mission and trying to defend her from all sorts of other nasty natives – as well as trying not to give in and ravish her on the spot.
The Elusive Bride may not make historical sense, Emily may be a brazen little hussy who needs a good slap and a stiff talking to, but this is an enjoyable read. It isn't serious literature, but nor is it unreadable rubbish.
Laurens has a lovely way with dialogue, her characters are well-fleshed out and the plot mostly makes sense. The fact that no real man of Regency England would allow a woman to interfere with his dangerous mission for the crown, nor would he take her up on a night of hot sex without marrying her or dumping her afterwards, doesn't matter. Who cares about reality when you can just sit back with a nice box of chocolates and indulge yourself in an afternoon of light reading?

The Elusive Bride by Stephanie Laurens is published by Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins and is available from good book stores and online.


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