The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley
Rating: 4 stars
Kudos: Diverse cast, a true villain, and a delicious, sweet romance
Review: This is my first Vanessa Riley book and it won’t be my last.
I’ve always loved historical romance novels, but Riley brought something new to the table. A story about a flower girl who fell in love with the second son of a lord. Theodosia Cecil is our flower seller. No longer, a woman selling bouquets for pence, but the widow of a man who left her flower gardens to tend. Except Theo has a problem, she needs to wed. Not only to protect her assets but to protect her son, from the cruelty of the man her husband named as her son’s guardian.
Enter the hero, playwright Ewan Fitzwilliam, who believing Theo betrayed him years ago, right after he left for war, has taken to writing a play where Theo will be portrayed a scandalous heartbreaker. Ewan doesn’t expect to still want Theo or care about her as strongly as he does. When his father demands that Ewan enter his name in the hat of potential people to marry Theo, chaos ensues. Let’s not forget to mention that this all gets started because Theo is advertising to find a husband and almost encourages Ewan’s widowed older brother.
Side-step all the things driving Ewan and Theo together: previous attraction and a previous relationship. There are multiple people trying to keep them apart. From Ewan’s parents, who do, and don’t want, them to rekindle their romance. To the evil guardian, whose name is not worth speaking. I’ll call him Voldemort because he truly is hideous. The fact this Voldee character freaks Theo out is enough to make me run the other away.
Theo and Ewan have to surmount present obstacles as well as the thorns from their past. Both parties have been maligned, but the pain they caused each other was influenced by others. Now, to the writing. Pacing is a bit slow in some spots, but there is a kind of poetry in motion to Riley’s dialogue and descriptive passages. This book is a sweet romance with a super slow burn and the kindling builds to a nice fever pitch. I rather enjoyed how everything played out, even the super tense end. There are plenty of surprises, some things I guessed and others I did not.
Overall, this was a great start to the series with plenty to offer, including family scandals and drama. I look forward to reading the remaining two books about Theo’s friends, Esther and Frederica. For those who enjoy Erin Knightley.