A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne GistA Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist                                                              reviewed by Kelli Standish

Breathtaking cover art, sparkling dialogue, and witty, unique lead characters give readers much to enjoy in this debut novel by author Deeanne Gist.

In the opening pages, we’re introduced to Lady Constance Morrow, a bold, feisty redhead with a love for mathematical equations that’s most unusual in a woman of 17th century England. 

When Constance sneaks onboard a slave ship to bid her jailed uncle farewell, her uncle’s captors kidnap her and banish her to the hold. Her problems compound when she learns she will be sold as a bride, along with the other female convicts onboard, when their ship reaches the North American colonies.

Enter our hero.  A groom most begrudging if ever there was one. 

The harsh, hostile life of a colonist guarantees nothing but pain and death. Tobacco farmer Drew O’Connor has watched multiple loved ones expire in the unforgiving Virginia wilderness. He’s not about to love anyone again, especially not a spoiled, red-haired waif who claims she’s actually the daughter of an Earl.

Unfortunately, a winning hand of cards makes Drew the proud owner of not just one bride, but two.  His long-planned schemes to avoid marriage fail, and he must marry the odiously freckled Lady Morrow, or lose all he’s worked so hard to gain. 

What are two spunky, God-fearing, single-but-married people to do with this highly inconvenient marriage of convenience? The remainder of the book addresses this question in a manner that is at times delightful, and at times troubling.

Romance novels in general present marriage as the climax point of the story. When the main characters are already married, particularly in a marriage of “convenience”, authors choose the moment love is declared, or the consummation of physical intimacy between the characters as their grand finale. 

The latter plot choice, which Gist uses in her tale, and which—forgive my bluntness—boils down to, “They’re married, but when will they have sex?” can be done tastefully, (as in Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers) or it can leave you feeling slimed.

If the sensuality is over-the-top, if the sexual tension is over-descriptive, or if the author simply gives you more information than you’d ever need to know about a couple’s intimate thoughts or encounters, then you’ve got a slime factor.

On a scale of one to ten, A Bride Most Begrudging held a slime factor of at least three for me, and I’m a married woman who doesn’t blush easily.  Readers who are single and longing, may find this story stirring in ways they’d do well to avoid. I’d also urge Christian parents to read this tale carefully before purchasing it for their daughters. 

The overt sexuality, combined with several stereotypic and placeholder characters, dimmed A Bride Most Begrudging for me, from brilliant to simply enjoyable.


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