Of the three bride books, I liked this one the best. Nothing keeps Pheobe down and nothing can stop her. The idea of being the second bride to her brother in law seems really icky, especially when the men don't seem to acknowledge her as a person at all. She even has to wear her dead sisters wedding gown, (cheap b@stards!) while the men wonder "why doesn't she look as good a her sister did in it???" DUH!
It's a quick read and then worth passing on, so enjoy it!
~ Second in Feather's "Brides Trilogy" and my least favorite of the three, though worth a read (3.5 stars) ~
This book is the second in Feather's "Brides Trilogy" (it follows THE HOSTAGE BRIDE, Portia's story, and precedes THE LEAST LIKELY BRIDE, Olivia's story). It is my least favorite of the three and although I really disliked it when I first read it (I looked back in my notes and apparently I only gave it one star), when I recently reread it I found that it wasn't as bad as I remembered it (or my taste has changed somewhat). It is definitely not your usual romance though (Feather's books often aren't) and some people may be put off by some of unusual aspects of the book; I've detailed them below, but some are spoilers so be forewarned.
[1646, England] Cato, Marquis of Granville, has had three wives and is now on his way to acquire a fourth - Phoebe, the somewhat awkward and clumsy younger sister of his third wife, Diana. He doesn't really have many expectations for the marriage: England is in the middle of a civil war in which Cato is playing a large role on the side of Parliament, he has never really noticed Phoebe much except as his wife's younger sister and one of his daughter's best friends, and basically his only interest aside from continuing the familial alliance is to finally get a son.
Phoebe knows exactly when she stopped seeing Cato as her brother-in-law and best friend's father and ever since that moment she has found herself unbelievably and undeniably attracted to him. She should therefore be ecstatic that her father and Cato have agreed to a marriage between them ... but she knows Cato doesn't return her feelings. After they are married, things just don't feel right - Cato doesn't seem to be treating her any differently than before and the nights they spend together in bed are far from what she imagined and her body desires. Determined to make Cato notice her, Olivia and Portia (the third in their trio and heroine of THE HOSTAGE BRIDE) help Phoebe change her clothing and hairstyle and Portia gives her some tips on how she can help Cato realize she wants him to *truly* make love to her.
Jane Feather combines a villainous subplot, a civil war backdrop, a stubbornly determined and oddly enchanting heroine, and a stern and lonely hero who against all odds finds himself falling for his surprisingly endearing new wife in her second "Brides Trilogy" book, THE ACCIDENTAL BRIDE.
~ Phoebe is one of those great unusual heroines: awkward, clumsy, very straightforward, unsure of her appeal to the hero, very caring and loving towards all those around her (no matter their rank or lack thereof)
~ The sex scenes between Phoebe and Cato aren't very numerous or long, but those that are there are quite hot (especially the one in the military camp when they have to sleep in the barracks ;-) lol)
~ When Cato and Phoebe's relationship starts to develop, there are some really great exchanges between them: Cato starts to find Phoebe's haphazard appearance endearing, how he reacts to her love and loyalty, etc.
UNUSUAL ASPECTS OF THE BOOK: (includes *spoilers*)
For the first month of their marriage, Phoebe and Cato have a very stilted sexual relationship and their wedding night is downright awkward. Cato thinks that like his three previous wives, Phoebe is a well-bred young lady who won't enjoy the marriage bed, so he'll get the business over and done with every night ASAP, then leaving her alone, in hopes of impregnating her and finally getting an heir. Phoebe is actually very attracted to Cato (she "lusts" after him) and so with Portia's help figures out how to seduce him and make him realize that she does indeed want to be an active participant in the marriage bed. I do have to give Feather props for tackling this issue and not having their sexual relationship be amazingly steamy from the get-go, but it is very unusual for the genre.
The age difference is somewhat bothersome (though I know, it's a different time period): Cato is 35, Phoebe is 18. As others have mentioned, Phoebe is one of Olivia's (Cato's daughter) best friends and they are only two years apart, so it makes the whole romance between Cato and Phoebe odd, kind of uncomfortable, and seems almost incestuous. Cato's third wife, Diana, was Phoebe's older sister and since Phoebe moved in to live with them, she's been Olivia's companion and almost a niece to Cato, so ... yeah, I don't know, kind of bizarre.
The subplot with Brian Morse trying to get at Cato (ruin him / kill him / etc.) can get to be very trying because at times you just want to shake Phoebe for seeming so oblivious and dense. She repeatedly almost gets sucked in to his traps and subterfuge and although in the end she realizes what he's about and tells him no (thankfully! because that would have really pissed me off), it goes on for far too long IMO.
If you're determined to read the whole trilogy - and the other two books are definitely worth it - then get this from the library or borrow it from a friend, don't buy it.