Title: You May Kiss the Bride
Author: Lisa Berne
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: The Penhallow Dynasty Series (Book One)
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: ebook via Tasty Tours
Synopsis: In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.
Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow the 'Penhallow way': find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.
But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?
How much bad news can one person take?
Livia isn't your typical lady. She doesn't wear the finest gowns or have the best mannerisms. In fact, she'd rather be a scullery maid than become permanently attached to a stuffy gentleman. Yet, that's exactly what's about to happen. When found in a compromising situation with Gabriel, the two are forced to turn their moment of lust into a full-blown engagement. Yikes.
This book started off so well. Our hero cannot help but feel inexplicably drawn to our heroine and a moment of weakness leads to scandal and consequences. Livia is determined not to go along with the farce, even willing to perform hard labor to escape it. I was on the edge of my seat at that point, loving the sassy Livia. I was developing respect for the determined Gabriel, who knew Livia wasn't a proper lady to be interested in but he couldn't help feeling attracted to her.
But after that, it was a series of one depressing event after another. Even the few steamy kisses planted here and there couldn't save the story for me. I felt terrible for Livia and wanted to encourage her to just take off and leave them all in her dust. They didn't deserve her, to be honest.
Our couple had no real chemistry, evident by the fact that they literally spent no time together that wasn't stealing kisses or insulting one another. Livia spent far more time being whipped around by Gabriel's grandmother than was necessary. Poor girl couldn't seem to catch a break. And Gabriel was aloof and unfeeling for the vast majority of the book. I was disappointed in his character the most.
I wanted to see some growth as a couple but just didn't find much. Sure, each of our main characters matures in some way, however, it happens on their own. The romance is almost always a subplot, rather than the main focal point. I thought that there was more emphasis on secondary characters, the transformation of Livia, and fixing estate problems than real, adequate romantic development.
This fell short for me in many ways. While I want to give this series another chance, I'm not sure I can handle another depressing story, such as this. Two gloomy suns!