The Dumont Bride, by Terri Brisbin

>> Wednesday, October 17, 2007

TITLE: The Dumont Bride (excerpt)
AUTHOR: Terri Brisbin

PAGES: 299
PUBLISHER: Mills & Boon Historicals

SETTING: Late 12th century England.
TYPE: Straight romance
SERIES: First in a trilogy: followed by The Norman's Bride and The Countess Bride.

REASON FOR READING: Lots and lots of Mills & Boon Historicals in the library here, and since I really liked Brisbin's The King's Mistress, she was one of the first authors I grabbed.

Christian Dumont Had Been To Hell To Pay For The Sins of His Father...

Now a royal command to wed would restore all he had lost--but at what price? For though marriage to landed, beauteous Emalie Montgomerie seemed to present no hardship, his countess harbored a secret dangerous enough to destroy them both!

Though she held her honor unblemished in her heart, Emalie Montgomerie knew that coming unchaste to her bridal bed was a sin unforgiveable in a noblewoman. Still, the desire flaring in Christian’s eyes offered her hope. . .but would the prideful Dumont ever accept another man’s babe as his own?
THE PLOT: When Lady Emalie Montgomerie's father dies suddenly, she becomes vulnerable to Prince John's depredations. He's determined to gain power over Emalie's holdings by forcing her to marry a man in his control, and before long, Emalie has been compromised against her will. In the nick of time, however, she's saved from having to marry the man by Queen Eleanor's intervention, who arranges a marriage with a man called Christian Dumont.

Christian Dumont has spent almost a year starving in a dungeon as punishment for his father's treason against King Richard. He believes he's about to be executed but is granted a last minute reprieve... as long as he agrees to do an unspecified favour for the King's mother. That favour ends up being marriage to a heiress and the addition of her extremely rich estate to his own holdings, which seems too good to be true. And he realizes it might be when it turns out his wife is pregnant, even though the marriage hasn't yet been consumated...

MY THOUGHTS: Well, this was disappointing. The set-up was interesting, and it could have been a really good book, but it felt like the characters were circling around the issues throughout most of the book, never really going at them head-on. The whole thing felt unfocused, especially in the first half.

Christian was an especially frustrating character. His history of having his honour questioned and denied through no fault of his own might have turned him into a more tolerant person, less ready to condemn others for a perceived lack of honour, but this just wasn't the case. The Christian of the first half was a total lout, and an unnecessarily cruel one, to boot. He arrives at Emalie's estate and immediately shunts her aside, even though it's obvious to anyone, even to him, that she's been running the holding on her own for some time and doing a fantastic job. Does he even consider the fact that his actions publicly humiliate her? He doesn't care. Does he consider that she might have some good ideas to add, given the success she's had already? No, he doesn't even think of it. So he's stupid as well as cruel.

And this is even before he discovers his wife is pregnant by another man, when he had no reason to believe anything bad of her. When he finds out about her "lack of honour", he goes insane, and I felt like strangling him. And Emalie doesn't help. She's so passive! She does try to explain to Christian that what happened was against her will, but he gets all outraged and goes "So you're crying rape now?" "Crying rape"?? Why should he doubt her? Idiot. And Emalie makes no more than a half-hearted protest. I mean, maybe he wouldn't have paid any attention, even if she'd protested more strongly (probably not, the stupid pig), but she doesn't even try.

I guess this was all necessary for Christian's later realizations about the nature of honour and what it means to lose it vs. being perceived to lose it, but it didn't make for a very sympathetic character. Plus, come on, man, it should have been obvious to you, considering what happened to you and your brother because of your father's actions!

And given his cruelty, I wasn't at all happy when the romancey stuff went into high gear. When Emalie started to get tingly feelings for her husband, I really didn't understand why she would feel that way.

MY GRADE: C- is really the best I can do. I'm giving it extra points for the atmosphere, which was good.


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