Thoughts After Reading:
It takes a skillful author for a romance story to overcome my aversion to certain literary motifs. In general, I never read books where one of the protagonists was previously in a loving relationship – such as a widower who truly loved his or her deceased spouse. I also seldom read romances where the heroine has had previous lovers. These preferences may seem odd, but I don’t like anything to pollute my fantasy relationships and HEAs... I enjoy it so much more when the protagonists’ romantic histories are unfettered, even if (and maybe because) it’s not realistic. I’m weird like that. Anyway, Victoria Vane’s A Wild Night’s Bride packed both of these unappealing themes into a historical novella - yet I loved the book anyway. I could definitely relate to the straight-laced hero, but - more than that - it was simply fun to see events conspire to bring the somewhat unlikely couple together. Vane weaves humor, silliness, and sensuality around two characters very deserving of a HEA, so the journey and conclusion are as enjoyable as they are fulfilling.
The hero’s name is Sir Edward Chambers, but to his hopelessly dissolute friend he is better known as “Dull Dog Ned”. He married young, and very much loved his wife of about fifteen years. She died in childbirth, so he blames himself for her death. He has been celibate the last three years since her death, probably both as a form of self-punishment and because he doesn’t want to participate in meaningless sex. It’s not that he doesn’t lust as much as the next guy, it's just that he finds it demeaning for both parties involved… so he simply doesn’t do it. The heroine’s backstory is just as tragic in its own way. She is a poor but genteel woman who once worked as a nursery maid to the royal princesses. She caught the prince’s eye, and her infatuation – coupled with his false promises – led her into an affair with him. Then, of course, he left her – heartbroken, jobless, and without a chance of marriage. She has been trying to get into acting for the last few years, but has not been able to get past minor roles. She’s at the point where she’s willing to sell her body to get large sums of money when she meets the hero at a orgy house party of sorts (the hero was brought by his friend). The heroine’s beauty and character affects the hero like no other woman has since his wife’s death, and the hero’s gentlemanly character and moderate good looks attract the heroine. The hero’s honor initially prevents him from propositioning the heroine. However, the hero’s friend is as observant as he is dissolute… and the friend sets a scheme in motion that ultimately brings the characters together in a satisfying way.
I reduced the rating of A Wild Night’s Bride by half a star because there were a few minor issues I had with the story. Aside from my aforementioned preferences not being met, things were tied up uncomfortably quickly after the climax of the plot. The remaining obstacles in the relationship were solved immediately, and suddenly the characters were irrevocably and perfectly in love with each other. But it is a novella, so the quick tie-up is forgivable. I also did not enjoy the epilogue. I completely understand that it was used as a setup for the next books in the series, but that does not mean I have to like it. The last bits of humor felt disappointingly off-key, and I thought it detracted slightly from the HEA.
I’ve been meaning to give Vane’s "DeVere" series a shot ever since I saw Tin’s positive reviews over at Love Saves the World. And I’m so glad I did - minor issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Victoria Vane’s A Wild Night’s Bride. The novella was overall very well written, and funny yet meaningful moments abounded as the reader is treated to the characters’ backstories, burgeoning chemistry, and deserving personalities. It’s a novella I can honestly recommend, and I definitely plan on trying out some of the next installments in the series.
Note: Victoria Vane is awesome. And by that, I mean awesome in a “she gave me a free review copy of this novella” kind of way.