The Challoner Bride, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Friday, September 02, 2005

I loved Jayne Ann Krentz's Wizard, so I took it as a good sign that The Challoner Bride was published with it in a 2-in-1 volume titled Worth The Risk.


A man with a past. But Flynn Challoner had big plans for the future. Hard-driving and iron-willed, he meant to find a dynasty...and for that he needed a woman.

Angie Morgan had every reason to doubt Flynn. He had deceived her, seduced her; now he wanted to lure her into a marriage she had sworn never to accept. She was no man's brood mare, and she had told him she would marry for nothing less than love. So why was it that she found herself longing for the wedding night that would make her a Challoner bride?
I didn't like it as much as Wizard, but it was a nice read. I'd rate it a B-.

The Challoner Bride had a conflict that shows up every now and then in Krentz's old categories: the hero is determined to marry the heroine for certain business of dynastic reasons, and the heroine refuses to marry for anything other than love.

In TCB, the conflict echoes an old family legend both of the Challoners and the Torreses (Angie's family), which had a young bride being practically sold into marriage, to cement a truce between the families. Angie feels that she's almost channeling that long-ago bride, Maria Isabel, and the parallels between their situations are striking.

The situation in the present is set up in such a way that it doesn't feel anachronistic. A plot that is too close to the legend would be hard to believe in a contemporary setting, but this one's close enough that the reader can see the similarities, but modern enough to be believable.

What Angie sees is that Flynn is driven to create some kind of new dynasty, to remake his family's fortunes, which have deteriorated in the last century or so. He gets much of his inspiration from the past, so his wanting Angie, as a kind of symbol makes sense to her. As for Angie, what pressures her here isn't the family obligation that drove Maria Isabel, but her own fascination with Flynn.

And the reason it all works, is that from the beginning, the reader can see that Flynn's attraction to Angie is based on so much more than what Angie thinks. He is obviously fascinated by Angie herself, even if it takes him some time to admit it to himself.

The emphasis is on the romance here, which is good, because the suspense subplot is silly and feels tacked-on. But it's mercifully brief and so not that much of a nuisance all that.

A nice, low-key way to spend a couple of hours.


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