Hero: Douglas Sherbrooke, Earl of Northcliffe, needs an heir and a bride. He secures the beautiful Melissande’s hand in marriage. Before they can wed he’s called away to attend delicate matters and sends his cousin to marry for him by proxy. Bad idea! When he returns he finds his cousin stole his bride and married him to the wrong sister.
Heroine: Alexandra Chambers, youngest daughter of the Duke of Beresford, is not beautiful like her sister Melissande. But she has loved Douglas since she was fifteen. When Douglas’s cousin proposes the scheme she is eager to do it. because she knows she will make Douglas a better wife than her high-strung sister. Now she must convince him of it too.
Review: Douglas is furious at the turn of events and takes it out on Alexandra and his cousin Tony. He’s one of those brawny alpha males who does many a pigheaded thing until he gives in and confesses his heart. You either love him or loathe him. Tony was a great side character who for some unknown reason liked an empty-headed vain woman with mush for brains. Melli was very annoying. What’s weird and disturbing is that Tony is training her like a dog to be a better person. Ick. I like Alex as a heroine and the writing was engrossing despite the story’s flaws. On a personal note, the Virgin Bride ghost was an unnecessary supernatural element that detracted more than aided the writing.
This novel serves as a Georgian historical romance that shows what life was like in that time period, and the hardship women endured at the hands of rakish men who only wanted women as their pleasure tools. For all the wealth some families had, if a daughter was easily led into the bedchamber of another single man, she was quickly seen as an outcast, and of no use to her parents. Jane Despard is the salt bride as the title states, she is an innocent who was hurt and introduced to the life of a woman too early for her to understand her place let alone true love.
Due to circumstances beyond her control, Jane Despard’s early life begins when she is swept off her feet by a rake of a man, the Earl of Salt Hendon who seduced her, took her virginity, and cast her away as he had done so many women before her. Unfortunately for her, she becomes with child, and is cast out by her father, Felix Despard who wants nothing more to do with her as he cannot marry her onto another suitor as a virgin bride. All is not lost though, as Jane is taken in by an old widower who cares for her as if she were her own, and luckily for her the others in the family don’t judge her as many do. Jane, in her darkest hour does not see the future before her that is so clear later on when the man who cast her so cruelly aside, has decided to take her for his wife out of decency and honour, even if he does not care for her in the way a man would for a wife, it means she has risen up the ranks from squire’s daughter to countess.
There are others around the family who want the marriage to fail, and some who wonder why Jane ever agreed to marry such a wanton libertine as Earl Salt. Everyone has an opinion of her and her husband, but that never matters to ones who are in love. It is interesting how families who know of Jane’s early plight judged her so harshly as though it was her intention to be seduced by a titled man when some such as Tom are only too aware of the nature of men like the Earl Salt.
The author, Lucinda has the ability to have the reader see between the lines of past and present and what it has done to the couple.