From the cover, I knew Iíd enjoy the latest from author Gayle Callen, His Bride.
Although Gwyneth Hall knows she is not Edmundís first bride, and rumor is that he murdered her cousin and first wife, Elizabeth, Gwen is penniless with no hope of marriage or family so she accepts her uncle Langston dowry and arranged marriage. Uncertain of his motives, since her uncleís daughter, his first wife, has been dead just six weeks, she is thrilled to become a bride. Edmund on the other hand, knows has entered into a bargain with the devil himself, since he will lose his lands and money if he doesnít provide a male heir. He is even warned by his ex-father-in-law that there is a catch to the marriage contract that he isnít aware of, and time will reveal all. Is he willing to gamble his future?
I enjoyed this tale because Gwen wants to be the dutiful, loving wife, but Edmund holds her at arms length because he is just using her money until he makes enough to pay back her dowry and plans to send her back to her father and three unwed sisters. So the fun is seeing the different ways the innocent Gwen tries to seduce Edmund with first her beauty, then her intelligence and compassion for others, and finally with her love. There are many charged scenes when you think she will succeed, only to have the honorable Edmund withdraw. The sexual tension builds slowly, but the steamy sex scences are worth the wait.
There are also two other characters in love, Edmundís former brother-in-law and Gwenís hand maid, and it would have been nice to see a parallel romance to quicken the pace of the story a bit. The pace slows a bit in the middle, releasing the sexual tension and it would have been nice to read of this relationship as it developed rather been told of it. In the end, Edmund is falling in love with his wife just as he learns of her betrayal and the pace quickens.
This book is a nice journey into the sixteenth century with references to honor and obligation more important that individual needs. I encourage anyone who has a fondness for dark, dangerous, suspicious heroes and soft, seductive ladies to take some time and discover, His Bride.