I read Olivia's story first and thought it was just okay. I'm glad I didn't read this one first because I probably would have had too high of an expectation for Olivia's. I loved this one. The characters were so much fun and I adored Portia's "can do" spirit. Her antics and banter with Rufus was great. They were so playful together. Yes, Rufus gets moody and unreasonable but he comes around from being an idiot most of the time so he becomes endearing.
Great, easy read.
Enjoyable and entertaining. Nice to read a book that does not follow all the other plots.
Portia is her own woman and very unconventional. A woman who can do anything a man can do. I enjoyed reading about her journey to become a soldier but still remain a woman who needs her friends and a loving family.
~ Terrific 17th century romance with a highly unusual heroine and an easy-to-fall-for hero (4.5 stars) ~
THE HOSTAGE BRIDE is the first in Jane Feather's Brides Trilogy, but I actually read it after having already read THE ACCIDENTAL BRIDE (Book 2) and THE LEAST LIKELY BRIDE (Book 3). I normally read Regency and Victorian era romances, but I really loved this book and although Feather writes in much more of a historical background than one often gets from regency romances, it is by no means overwhelming and only adds to the book.
The age difference between the hero and heroine (she's 17 and we don't know Rufus's age exactly, but ~early 30s) bothered me, but I just changed her age in my mind since it's only mentioned once or twice, lol. The feud which dominates the book and the misunderstanding at the end between the hero and heroine are quite quickly and anti-climatically resolved, but I really can't complain - I hate it when authors feel they have to throw obstacle after obstacle between the main characters and extend misunderstandings for more than half the book, so I'm thankful Feather did neither. I really enjoyed THE HOSTAGE BRIDE and would highly recommend it. Great characters, unusual heroine, easy-to-fall-for hero, well-written chemistry, and an interesting plot with great twists and turns - all in all, a definite keeper and reread!
The hero and heroine in this book were terrific; I read that some reviewers were not compelled by their connection or didn't feel the chemistry between them, but I strongly disagree. Portia and Rufus are perfect for each other - they are both outcasts in a way, unsure of their place in the world and not really belonging anywhere. They're very strong and courageous individuals who have suffered through loss and loneliness, yet retain their humor and good nature.
There is no annoying love-at-first-sight (which I always find hard to believe) in this book and the initial antagonism and teasing between them is really fun to read; the chemistry and sexual tension between them is well-written. I love the verbal sparring and battle of wills that often goes on between main characters in romances, but I also love the scenes of humor and tenderness and love, and you definitely get both of these sides in the book.
Portia is a very unusual heroine - she's extremely skinny, not particularly pretty or womanly, has flame-red hair and freckles, and is a bastard/by-blow tomboy who wants to be a soldier. She's had a difficult life and right after we meet her at the beginning of the book (excluding the preface which introduces us to the three heroines of the Brides trilogy) her father dies and she is left basically all alone in the world. She's independent and brave, smart and loyal, and IMO a perfect match for Rufus.
Rufus is a wonderful hero; he's got that roguish-bad-boy appeal, but he's also sweet and thoughtful and really cares about the people in his life. Watching him fall for Portia, a little slip of a girl, is so fun, and just as Portia finds a sense of belonging by his side, it's great to see him find peace and love with her after feeling an outcast and being ruled by revenge for so long.
Other romances that have the kidnapping theme and that I've really enjoyed include: THE LEAST LIKELY BRIDE by Jane Feather (last book in the Brides Trilogy); THE BRIDE THIEF by Jacquie D'Alessandro; TO CATCH AN HEIRESS (Agents for the Crown, Book 1) by Julia Quinn; IRRESISTIBLE (second in the Banning Sisters Trilogy) by Karen Robards; THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS (Princess Series, Book 1) by Christina Dodd; and HONOR'S SPLENDOUR by Julie Garwood.