Saturday, January 31, 2009
Review: The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll
Title: The Bride Finder
Author: Susan Carroll
Category: Paranormal Romance
Setting: 18th Century Cornwall
Series: Bride Finder Series, Book 1
Challenge: Re-Read Challenge
I read The Bride Finder a couple of years ago. It was the first non vampire related paranormal romance that I read and loved. It has remained one of my favorite's since then and I have been wanting to re-read it for some time. The opportunity for a re-read never really presented itself until Nath's 2009 Re-Read Challenge. When I signed up for the challenge I knew right away that the first book that I was going to re-read would be The Bride Finder, but I was a little scared that I wouldn't like it as much the second time around. Was it possible that my first and most loved paranormal romance was as good as I remembered? I'm happy to say that it was.
Anatole St. Leger has lived a life of solitude on his haunted, gothic cliff-side estate of Castle Leger, which he likes just fine. But it is time for him to take a bride and in St. Leger tradition a Bride Finder is brought in to find the male St. Leger's perfect mate. Anatole calls in Bride Finder, Fitzleger, to make his wishes for a bride clear. Since Anatole has received visions that warn him to beware the woman of flame, he wants to make sure that the woman Fitleger finds for him is not related to the vision. So, his one demand above all is that his bride does not have red hair. All of his other wishes - a woman with sturdy limbs, ample bosom, good horsemanship, a plain face, practical mind and courage - are requested because Anatole is a foreboding man who lives in a formidable castle, and he wants a bride that will not be scared of him or his home.
He sends Fitzleger off to find his bride and waits for her to arrive. When she does, Anatole is outraged by what he sees. Madeline Brent is not the woman he asked for. She is a delicate woman, with a fey-like face, slight build, but above all she has flame red hair. Anatole can not believe that Fitzleger, the man that he trusted to find his perfect bride went against all of his wishes. And Anatole is not alone in his outrage. Madeline is dismayed to find that her husband by proxy is nothing like the man that Fitzleger led her to believe awaited her. Instead of the kind faced scholar that a miniature depicted him as, Anatole is rustic, imposing and brooding. She feels immediately deceived by Fitzleger, as does Anatole. But the Bride Finder is sure that his instincts did not steer him wrong and that Madeline is the perfect bride for Anatole. Both Anatole and Madeline are resigned to this marriage that they do not want and go into it with heavy hearts, neither expecting to find their perfect match or ready for the mischief and mystery coming their way.
The Bride Finder is set upon a dreary backdrop, a lone castle sitting on the bleak edge of cliffs and moors, inhabited by a harsh master, his crew of strange help, and a mischievous ghost that refuses to rest in peace. When Madeline is placed into this group of what she sees as misfits, she has to somehow find her place in a house where she feels she is not wanted. She does her best to be the wife that she thinks she should be and Castle Leger needs. At the same time, Anatole is trying to act as the perfect husband for Madeline and having a hard time at it. He is stretching himself thin trying to be someone he is not in hopes that he will be able to prolong telling Madeline the truth about himself and his past. He is afraid that Madeline will turn away from him if she knows who he really is. Anatole's worries are not unfounded, he has seen what can happen to a woman who is not prepared for what life with a St. Leger means. His own mother was frightened of him and he does not want Madeline to treat him the way his mother did.
One of my favorite things about this book is the prose, which ranges from haunting to beautiful to comical. The story was able to stir many different emotions in me from one page to another. The dialogue is also great. With every exchange between the characters I felt like I was privy to a personal conversation between them. It was easy to forget that I was reading a book and not watching something real life unfold before my eyes. The descriptive voice that Ms. Carroll has does the story great justice, bringing the characters, setting, dress, and actions to life. These three things: prose, dialogue, and description, made reading The Bride Finder a real treat.
Going into reading this book for the second time, I had some reservations. Would I like it as much as I did the first time? Would it be as witty, would the chemistry between Madeline and Anatole be as tender? Would I still be on the edge of my seat as the ending neared? The answer to all those questions was a resounding yes! I absolutely loved The Bride Finder the second time around. It is, without a doubt, my favorite Paranormal Romance to date. Grade A+