Miss Sarah Fairfax is having a wretched year. Her intended perished at war. His child is in her belly. To secure her future, she resigns herself to a loveless marriage. Just as she’s about to say “I do,” her fiancée returns from the grave to crash the wedding… but he’s no longer the charming, carefree man she remembers.
After being left for dead on the battlefield, Brigadier Edmund Blackpool is scarred inside and out. He fights his way home only to discover his intended before the altar with his best friend. He’ll be the one to marry her, no matter what she wants! But when his new bride disappears with his child, he must reopen his wounds to win the most important battle of his life.
Source: ARC from the author via NetGalley
I love the Dukes of War series, because it’s so easy to read, and this latest installment is no exception. A lost twin rising from the dead, a heavily pregnant woman about to marry another man, a crashed wedding, a vanished wife, a sudden birth, emotional turmoil caused by baby brain and no sleep… all with a nice historical setting. What’s not to love?
Okay, so if I’m honest, much though I enjoyed this book, I devoured it in a couple of hours. It’s really short, which meant a lot of things felt glossed over or ignored. Such as why Sarah really ran away. If she’s worried about starting her marriage in the right way, perhaps she shouldn’t have bolted? Also, the reunions between the old friends and the various guilty consciences swirling around were all dispatched very quickly. There’s a whole lot of forbearance and understanding when really I expected a little more anger. Then there’s all the monetary issues that Sarah has. I really liked how that was incorporated into the story, since Edmund is well-born but not titled, yet that also fell swiftly by the wayside.
Also, it might have been nice to have known a bit more about Edmund’s recovery. With wounds such as his, the idea that he essentially walked home from Waterloo is pretty staggering. Add in babies (and wasn’t that a miraculously trouble free birth!) and marital issues to do with self-consciousness on Sarah’s side and a wish never to hurt his wife again on Edmund’s and there was definitely a lot more going on in this novel than is allowed to flourish. Especially when you add PTSD on top.
Which is a shame, because what is actually in this book is lovely. I adored the baby bath scene and I especially loved the conversation where Edmund and Sarah scare the life out of Bartholomew with their parenting horror stories. I also enjoyed the distance between the two of them, the misunderstandings and of course the way it was resolved. Their marriage has a very difficult beginning, but I enjoyed seeing how they slowly built something out of it all.
However, I would have liked to have actually seen Edmund and the duke really sort things out and I’m slightly concerned about Sarah’s brother’s lifestyle. But those are small things compared to everything else I’ve already mentioned above, and really, I did thoroughly enjoy reading this. I just wish it had been given time to properly explore all the issues it raised.
So, if you’re a fan of this series you probably don’t need me to tell you to read this. It is a highly enjoyable tale, if a little emptier than I would like (but I have a good imagination, I can fill in the gaps). If you’re new, this is probably not the best place to start, since Edmund’s return means so many different things to different people. However, I definitely recommend the series overall if you’re looking for something light and engaging with a Regency twist and a lovely touch of romance. This one is probably a little more realistic than sweet, but I liked it anyway. Can’t wait to see where the series heads next.
The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride is out September 1st!
Visit Erica Ridley for more details.