|The Bride Finder|
|By Susan Carroll
(The Ballantyne Publishing Group – 1998)
Reviewed by Frances Grattan
|et amongst the rocky cliffs, wild foamy sea, and storms of Cornwall, The Bride Finder is a story of romance, mystery, magic, and family tradition.
Anatole St. Ledger is Lord of a mysterious castle. There, he keeps himself secluded, preferring the company of his horses and dogs. His staff and the local villagers both fear and respect their black-clad Lord, who resembles some sort of Celtic warrior.
Rumours of ghosts, sorcery, and old scores surround Anatole and his home. His family is very traditionally based. A chosen member, with a special gift, picks all brides for the St. Ledger men. Those who marry otherwise are destined for disaster. In Anatoles lifetime, the Bride Finder is Septimus Fitzledger.
Fitzledger sets off to London to find the woman of Anatoles destiny. He finds Madeline Breton. From what she has been told, Madeline imagines Anatole to be a gentleman and lover of the arts. Since her family is in need of funds to cover gambling debts, Madeline sacrifices herself to this marriage, but convinces herself it could grow into a love match.
The minute she arrives in Cornwall, however, her bubble of a dream bursts around her. Anatole grabs hold of Madelines companion and gives her a kiss of welcome, so blatantly sexual, the woman falls into an hysterical heap at his feet. Before Madeline has absorbed the situation, her companion and servants abandon her to the Cornwall fate. She has to tap her husband on the shoulder and inform him he kissed the wrong woman.
He does not appear pleased with the information, thinking her too frail for her life at his castle on the rocky cliffs. Madeline, however, is stronger than she looks, and intends to make the best of things. She also wants to find out first-hand about the devastating kiss her husband bestowed on her companion. She doesnt have to wait long, as Anatole is soon seething with desire for his chosen bride.
They have a lot to learn about each other and Madeline is determined to get to the bottom of the rumours surrounding her new husbands family. Anatole is just as determined she not discover the truth, certain it will scare her away.
Evil is afoot, and forces linger, intending harm. Does Madeline really want to know the truth about her husband? And what will she do when all is revealed?
This is a great story. I loved the magic and mystery interwoven through the story, and the sexual tension between Madeline and Anatole virtually steams off the pages!