No Man’s Bride
Set in pre-Regency England, No Man’s Bride begins a series about the amorous adventures of four friends who have sworn never to marry. The first of the quartet to fall to matrimony is Catherine Fullbright, the abused daughter of an aristocratic “Bill Sikes” who forces her to marry her sister’s unsuspecting betrothed – an astounding feat of duplicity accomplished with surprising ease. When the hoodwinked bridegroom, Lord Valentine, discovers the deceit, he is not entirely dismayed, for his wife is as desirable as she is intriguing. To prevent his fearful bride from ruining his political aspirations by seeking an annulment, Lord Valentine must overcome her dread of men and woo her to his bed.
Although the psychological reactions of a woman brutalized by her father ring true, the speed of Catherine’s evolution from overanxious loner into competent hostess is rather unbelievable. At almost every point the plot feels forced, including the all-important motivation for switching the brides at the altar. That having been said, since the main thrust of this novel is the sizzling foreplay between the newlyweds, those readers who seek more steam than substance will enjoy the romp with Lord and Lady Valentine.