Click here to read reviewer Jilian Vallade's take on At the Bride Hunt Ball.
What's the point? That was the thought going through my mind as I read At the Bride Hunt Ball. Olivia Parker's first published novel
is like so many other novels out there - no original dialogue, well-worn plot, writing-by-numbers. It's a Regency, so of course we have a titled hero (and a top title for this hero, a duke) who isn't interested in women until he meets our heroine, Madelyn Haywood. And, of course, Madelyn isn't on the hunt for a husbands (heroines can never be maneaters) but is instead worried for her friend's heart as her friend has a tendre for the duke's younger brother. And, of course, the Duke of Wolverest, Gabriel Devine, doesn't want to get married but wants to encourage his brother to get married so that the dukedom will have an heir. Really?
Gabriel's younger brother is a bit of a playboy, so Gabriel arranges for a vastly improbable Bride Hunt Ball where seven young women are chosen to stay at the Duke's estate for a couple of weeks with their chaperones and then attend a ball. At the ball, Gabriel's brother Tristan will choose his bride. Really?
Fortunately for the plot, our heroine is chosen as one of the seven 'lucky' potential brides, along with her short-sighted friend Charlotte.
But, of course, Madelyn, being no fortune-hunter despite having a pretty tricky
home life, doesn't want to attract Tristan or even his brother the duke. I bet
you can guess what's coming now... yep, the duke finds Madelyn unexpectedly
attractive and starts pursuing her. Madelyn is accident-prone, which apparently makes her seem fresh and different (but which makes me think of Mary Balogh's book
Slightly Dangerous, where this idea was carried out with considerably more aplomb). Really?
So the duke, being a gentleman, does what all sensible Regency gentlemen who appreciate being able to make their own choices do... and behaves completely out of character with a seduction of a proper young lady. Really?
There's nothing fresh in this story: the plotlines are old and tired (apart from the Bride Hunt Ball, which seemed so vastly unlikely I could never believe it), the characterization is pretty thin and often stereotypical, historical accuracy in dialogue is patchy, and the cover art makes this book look like hundreds of others out there - which of course it is. There's nothing wrong with At the Bride Hunt Ball really. It's just that there's nothing special about it to lift it above the dozens of such books that are published each month.