The Bad Man's Bride, by Susan Kay Law

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Bad Man's Bride (excerpt) was my first book so far by author Susan Kay Law.

At first glance, the lovely Easterner Anthea Bright seems woefully unsuited for her position as the new schoolmarm in Haven, Kansas. But behind that fine finishing school polish is a fiery spirit and a determination to succeed. Gabriel Jackson, however, is a different kind of challenge. The intensely passionate, devastatingly sexy man is Haven's most disreputable citizen -- and he's put Anthea's level head and her heart in a furious spin. How can theprim, pretty newcomer hope to stand firm to her principles when she feels breathless whenever Gabriel's near? And though a small voice inside tells her the "bad man's" not nearly as bad as his reputation would suggest, does she dare surrender to this dangerous stranger who is bound and determined to make Anthea his bride?
Unfortunately, this didn't really work very well for me. I'd give it a C-.

What I hated the most about the book was how horrible the setting was. Or rather, I kind of liked the "feel" of Kansas in wintertime, with the snow and the huddling in a warm bed, but I couldn't stand the people who surrounded our protagonists. Yep, Haven is one of those small towns filled with a population of which 90% is small minded, hypocritical and judgemental.

There's even a secondary subplot which tries to show the complexity of one of those people, Philip Cox, the town banker, a guy who's marriage is in trouble because his wife once slept with our hero, Gabriel, when they were 15 and now can't forget him. Philip wants his wife's love. Sounds good so far, but I actually hated it, because in spite of being a man who can love his wife, Philip is actually a horrible person. I simply didn't care about him.

The romance between Gabriel and Anthea wasn't bad, but it simply didn't engage my interest. I did know Gabriel well enough by the end of the book, but Anthea remained a mystery. I didn't understand her.

This is a book without a suspense subplot, and the "conflict" is provided by the fact that the whole town would disapprove of Anthea and Gabriel's relationship, if it were to become public. This was problematic, because it gave an excuse for even more judgemental and hypocritical behaviour on the part of the townspeople.

There is a kind of twist near the end, dealing with who is who's child, but this was extremely easy to guess and made the story even more distasteful.

Another negative is that The Bad Man's Bride is obviously the beginning of a series, and there's quite a bit here about Anthea's sisters, stuff that's irrelevant to this story and only there to tempt us into reading the following books. I hate it when authors do that.

The Bad Man's Bride was not badly written, and some parts were ok, but the flaws simply overwhelmed this.


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