Dear Reader, Here is the first of my new "Brides" trilogy, in which three unconventional young women vow they will never marry--only to be overtaken by destiny. Bride #1 is the outspoken Portia.... It's bad enough that seventeen-year-old Portia Worth is taken in by her uncle, the marquis of Granville, after her father dies. As the bastard niece, Portia knows she can expect little beyond a roof over her head and a place at the table. But it truly adds insult to injury when the Granvilles' archenemy, the outlaw Rufus Decatur, hatches a scheme to abduct the marquis's daughter--only to kidnap Portia by accident. Portia, who possesses more than a streak of independence as well as a talent for resistance, does not take kindly to being abducted--mistakenly or otherwise. Decatur will soon find himself facing the challenge of his life, both on the battlefield and in the bedroom, as he contends with this misfit of a girl who has the audacity to believe herself the equal of any man.... Warmest wishes, Jane Feather P.S. Phoebe, the "awkward" one, will be next, in The Accidental Bride. Watch for it in early 1999. From the Paperback edition.
Feather, whose latest series were the V series (Vanity, Vice, Violet, etc.) and the Charm Bracelet trilogy (The Emerald Swan, The Silver Rose, etc.), sets her new Brides trilogy during the English Civil War. Each installment will focus on one of three young women joined by friendship and fate. Portia Worth's uncle, Cato Granville, is a Roundhead and mortal enemy of Rufus Decatur, a nobleman who has sworn fealty to King Charles in hopes of winning back his family's property and honor. Rufus's men mistakenly kidnap Portia, but when no money is forthcoming, the two outsiders an unwanted hostage and a dispossessed noble find a common bond. It's a fine romantic convention though rather marred by Portia's unduly prickly and bellicose nature. The author does a good job of capturing the period the class differences; life in a military encampment and during a siege; and the fickle loyalties of the day. But Feather can also stumble into breathless melodrama in dialogue and description: "He'd nurtured his anger with a fierce flame, but now as he tried with his own breath to return the living warmth to her face, to her eyes, that anger was as if it had never been."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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1 . Not my era
Posted June 30, 2010 by cozy_fan , USAI stopped reading this halfway through, which confused me because I never usually do that and I was fairly interested in the characters. The problem is really that I didn't like this era (mid-1600s) and I completely lost interest once the main characters hooked up. So, no reflection on JF's writing, but this was not for me.
May 31, 1998
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Excerpt from The Hostage Bride by Jane Feather
Edinburgh, Scotland December, 1643 Acrid smoke billowed around the windowless room from the peat fire smoldering sullenly in the hearth. The old crone stirring a pot over the fire coughed intermittently, the harsh racking the only sound. Outside, the snow lay thick on a dead white world, heavy flakes drifting steadily from the iron gray sky. A bundle of rags, huddled beneath a moth-eaten blanket, groaned, shifted with a rustle of the straw beneath the sticklike frame. "Brandy, woman!" The crone glanced over her shoulder at the hump in the corner, then she spat into the fire. The spittle sizzled on the peat. "Girl's gone fer it. Altho' what she's usin' to pay fer it, the good Lord knows." The bundle groaned again. A wasted arm pushed feebly at the blanket, and Jack Worth struggled onto his elbow. He peered through slitted eyes into the smoke-shrouded room. Nothing had improved since he'd last looked, and he sank back into the straw again. The earth floor was hard and cold beneath the thin and foul-smelling straw, pressing painfully into his emaciated body. Jack wanted to die, but the flicker of life was persistent. And if he couldn't die, he wanted brandy. Portia had gone for brandy. His enfeebled brain could hold that thought. But where in the name of Lucifer was she? He couldn't remember what time she'd gone out into the storm. The blizzard obliterated all signs of time passing, and it could as well be midnight as dawn. His pain-racked limbs were on fire, his eyes burned in their sockets, every inch of his skin ached, and the dreadful craving consumed him so that he cried out, a sound so feeble that the crone didn't even turn from the fire. The door opened. Frigid air blasted the fug, and the smoke swirled like dervishes. The girl who kicked the door shut behind her was wire thin yet exuded a nervous energy that somehow enlivened the reeking squalor of the hovel. "Brandy, Jack." She came to the mattress and knelt, drawing a small leather flask from inside her threadbare cloak. Her nose wrinkled at the sour stench of old brandy and decaying flesh exuding from the man and his sickbed, but she pushed an arm beneath his scrawny neck and lifted him, pulling off the stopper of the flagon with her teeth. Her father was shaking so hard she could barely manage to hold the flask to his lips. His teeth rattled, his lifeless eyes stared up at her from his gaunt face, where the bones of his skull were clearly defined. He managed to swallow a mouthful of the fiery spirit, and as it slid down his gullet his aches diminished a little, the shivers died, and he was able to hold the flask in one clawlike hand and keep it to his lips himself until the last drop was gone. "Goddamn it, but it's never enough!" he cursed. "Why d'ye not bring enough, girl!" Portia sat back on her heels, regarding her father with a mixture of distaste and pity. "It's all I could afford. It's been a long time, in case you've forgotten, since you contributed to the family coffers." "Insolence!" he growled, but his eyes closed and he became so still that for a moment Portia thought that finally death would bring him peace, but after a minute his eyes flickered open. Saliva flecked his lips amid his thick uncombed gray beard; sweat stood out against the greenish waxen pallor of his forehead and trickled down his sunken cheeks. Portia wiped his face with the