Thursday, August 25, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Confessions of an Improper Bride by Jennifer Haymore

Grand Central Publishing August 2011

By Jennifer Haymore



Serena Donovan left London six years ago, her heart broken and her reputation ruined by devilishly handsome Jonathan Dane. Now, with her family's future in peril, she reluctantly agrees to return to England and assume her late twin's identity. The price? Marry a man she doesn't love and spend the rest of her days living a lie.

Jonathan Dane, Earl of Stratford, has become an incorrigible rake, drinking, gambling-and trying to forget Serena Donovan. Yet the moment he's introduced to the prim and proper "Meg", he recognizes the sensual young woman who captured his heart. Haunted by his past mistakes, he refuses to lose Serena again. But convincing her to trust him is no easy task. Claiming his lost love means exposing the truth and destroying the life Serena has sacrificed everything to rebuild. With the future of all the Donovans at stake, and their undying passion capable of triggering yet another scandal, how much will Jonathan and Serena risk for a chance at true love?


I have been reading a fair amount of romances lately with eye-rolling plots, and this new book by Jennifer Haymore is no different. Luckily, I am willing to suspend my belief when reading and I would suggest you do the same and just go with this one.

The death of Serena's twin made me snigger, not sure that was the effect Jennifer Haymore was going for. Six years later and Serena has assumed her late twin Meg's identity and will even be marrying Meg's long time fiance William Langley, anything to ensure her other sisters future. Serena wonders if Jonathan Dane is still in London. The man she lost her innocence to and was promptly thrown aside by six years ago. At first, I wasn't sure if Serena was extremely naive or stupid, or both.

Cut to Jonathan Dane, in the past six years he has wallowed in the debauched life of a dissolute rake, not caring about anything. Turns out he is good friends with Langley and when he hears Meg(Serena) is on her way to London, the memories come flooding back. He actually loved Serena and was devastated by news of her death six years ago. He blamed himself, the way he treated her.

Since Captain Langley is Jonathan's friend, he immediately comes face to face with Serena. She can't believe it, the very young man she remembered has filled out nicely, even more handsome than she remembered and he inherited his father's title, Dane is now the Earl of Stratford.

Jonathan on his part, is suspicious right from the start, her mannerisms remind him of Serena. Must be his fevered imagination. Serena goes through with the staid courtship with the Captain while lusting after Dane. Serena just was not an interesting heroine to me. She is living a lie, at the behest of her parents and duping Langley. But then, is Langley what he seems?

A sub plot with Serena's younger sister Phoebe and an officer friend of Langley's was vaguely  interesting.
And Dane had many interesting layers as the book progressed. I think what made me curl my lip while I read was Serena's stubborn willfulness in holding Dane's rake past against him. Hello? It's the past? He thought you were dead? However, Dane is not completely blameless, he gave the young Serena the cut direct after their night of passion six years ago under pressure from his family. He was very young and impressionable but Serena is not ready to forgive this either.

There are intermittent flashbacks, to flesh out exactly what happened between Serena and Dane. Youthful errors causing years of heartbreak. Maybe it was just me, but I was not emotionally involved with any of the characters. It was well written, but the plot did not grab me as some of Jennifer Haymore's previous books.  It was a satisfactory read, I didn't dislike it, just didn't blow me out of the water.

2.75 stars out of 4

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