+Book Review+ The Reluctant Bride by Beverley Eikli #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 11 January, 2014 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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The Reluctant Bride by Beverley EikliThe Reluctant Bride by Beverley Eikli

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Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Historical | Regency

Napoleonic | Espionage | Suspense

Published by: ChocLitUK, 7 September 2013

Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book, Audiobook, & Large Print Page Count: 400


Acquired Book By:

Whilst researching Indie Publishers and Presses one evening, as I was hopping through the book blogopshere, I started to alight on book bloggers who were recommending several of whom I hadn’t yet heard of! ChocLitUK was listed as a good resource for Romance; intrigued I clicked over to read more about them! I believe it was ‘love’ at first sight for me – their website won me over instantly! The stories they publish are stitched together in a way that has always endeared me to the genre! Having read about their Tasting Panel, I enquired by email if they would ever consider a book blogger to review their titles instead.

ChocLitUK is an Independent Publisher whose origins go back to 2009 for bringing top quality women’s fiction with the undercurrents of love woven into the stories! Their catalogue of stories appeals to me, as I never considered myself a “Chick Lit” type of gal, as I love the foundations of romance to be etched in relationships! (as outlined in “My Bookish Life”) The full essence of what I seek out when I want to be wrapped up in a romance is found in the niche ChocLit has developed! Besides who couldn’t help but appreciate a publisher with a cheeky sense of humour? ChocLit | Chocolate, anyone?

I am now a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “The Reluctant Bride” from ChocLit via IPM (International Publisher’s Marketing) in exchange for an honest review! The book released on 7th September 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. This marks my first review for ChocLitUK!

Inspired to Read:

I am always finding a way to duck into the Regency &/or the Victorian age, which is why I was perked with interest when I saw the genre offered in ChocLit’s catalogue! This story has a clever character arc in which two of the leads are needing to embark on a journey towards redemption. One to prove she can stand on her own feet again and another (I presume) to not only overcome his life as a soldier but to accept and shift forward from the death of his mistress. There is a lot of clever passageways the author could take this story and I was keen to find out! The back-story alone held my interest but its the heart of the two lead characters that made me tempted to read it!

Book Synopsis:

Can honour and action banish the shadows of old sins?

Emily Micklen has no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn soldier who represents her only escape from destitution. Major Angus McCartney is tormented by the reproachful slate-grey eyes of two strikingly similar women: Jessamine, his dead mistress, and Emily, the unobtainable beauty who is now his reluctant bride. Emily’s loyalty to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s determination to atone for the past and win his wife with honour and action. As Napoleon cuts a swathe across Europe, Angus is sent to France on a mission of national security, forcing Emily to confront both her allegiance to Jack and her traitorous half-French family. Angus and Emily may find love, but will the secrets they uncover divide them forever?

Author Biography:Beverley Eikli

Beverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her secure job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily, The Advertiser, to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne. She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.

Beverly won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star with The Reluctant Bride. Beverley’s Choc Lit novels include: The Reluctant Bride and The Maid of Milan.

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Ruined and Anguished in Love:

Emily is writ in such a clever way of giving the reader a visceral proponent of realism whilst becoming empathic to her plight! I credit this to Eikli, who allows Emily to live her truth as much as repel against the sentimental backlash the outside world would love to expel towards her. Her character is forged in steel, wrought through generations of a family whose bold courage had won them survival. Considered ruined and forever anguished in love, Emily is a woman who you find yourself rooting to find solid footing once more! She’s lost the glint of light and of mirth she held so dear to her breast prior to her circumstances changing overnight. She had a fiery flint of raw tenacity which had my mind flutter back in fond rememberance of Danielle from Ever After. Most especially as there was a scene in the opening chapters of The Reluctant Bride which matched the scene with Danielle and Prince Henry, unto regards of the horse and apples scene!

My mind wandered a bit to remember other stories of marriage of convenience which I hold most dear to memory: the Love Comes Softly series on Hallmark Channel and A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist! Filt with characters like Emily, who felt not only scorned by unrequited love but at a loss to envelope themselves into a new set of circumstances by the kindness of men they were barely acquainted with prior to consenting to marriage! There are novellas writ along these story-lines as well, and I must confess, they are my favourites of the Heartsong Presents editions! You have such a powerful character arc to explore, the reader (such as I) draws a curious brow towards seeking out stories of a similar nature to see how each writer will treat the subject matter!

Emily has stone-walled her heart, in direct fear that she will be plumb miserable if she chooses to accept any show of kindness from Angus her stand-in groom! I sympathised with her as her family started to show how diffident they would be towards her knowing full well the babe had come a bit short of the wedding day! Old train of logic was to punish the women never the men; for if a woman was not strong in will to stand-off the comings of a man, she would be viewed as less worthy in both society and family of status! I was a bit surprised to have learnt they would be sent directly into the workhouses rather than kept within the sanctity of the family!

Reluctant to share her life with another man other than her betrothed and reluctant to admit, she might have found the one man whose sensitive kindness could slowly erase the hardness of her heart! Through reluctance we sometimes find the ability to heal, even if in the opening hours of our restoration we fight tooth and nail against being forgiven! Emily is at the cross-roads of sorting through whether or not she has the strength and faith to render her sorrow for what it is and boldly walk into her future, of which is being given to her outside the scope of how society generally would have vilified her. It’s this dichotomy of difference, which gives Emily the greatest woe in understanding how she is viewed in one way by outside eyes and cherished altogether differently by her husband’s family.

My Review of The Reluctant Bride:

Eikli certainly has a way of opening a novel with a one-two punch! The blushing bride-to-be in this story is Emily, a girl who has become devouted and attached to her bridegroom of whom entered the grave before their nuptials could be taken. Whilst recovering from the sudden loss of her beloved, Emily is given the horrific news of being withchild! The century in which the story unfolds is one where a woman’s life is plumb ruined by any transgression which would put her outside the propriety of society. A child bourne out-of-wedlock was a circumstance beyond repute!

I liked how the espionage starts out as a gentle foreshadow of what is yet to come in pursuant chapters! Gently nudging the audience towards piecing together the shards of Emily’s far-flung French relatives against the foreground knowledge of where Angus’s counter-intelligence work will lead him! I must confess, I was hinged to hope that somehow part of Emily’s past could become redeemed through the actions of her husband, Angus!

Angus on the other hand, is writ as the soldier who would like to have a bit more out of life than a life of serving his country on a stipend upon exit which barely provides enough for his own needs much less a wife’s. He’s a man who never considered himself able to marry due to the pattern of life which had fallen his way. The one heart he was able to give his love to died tragically which leaves him irresolute towards knowing how to appease Emily. He wants to approach her in a loving manner, but is resolved to feeling that all his attempts towards embracing his newlywed wife with affections felt most deep, she will turn on his advances taking in the wrong measure of explanation. A proud man who fell into serving England in covert affairs abroad to thwart the French makes his situation in the novel most alluring! As much as his wanton hope to change part of who he is in order to cultivate a proper life full of love, harmony, and children. For a central male figure of a novel, Angus by far, gives the reader a strong lead in how the traditional character arc of a male can be transformative!

The complexity of the story is further enveloped around the mysterious past of Emily’s maternal past. The narrative slips between Emily’s position in the McCartney’s family (Angus’s kin) and the role her father plays in the deceptive French spy rings. Her father is cold-hearted and calculating to a most evil extent. One of the best repulsively written characters I have encountered! The threads of the tapestry are wrought in such a way, as to give pause and reflection for each tidbit of a clue thus revealed! Your eyes flutter to alert noting the interconnections and the depth of how entwined Emily and Angus are becoming whilst on the verge of sorting through devastating tragedy.

The depth of Eikli’s ability to convey the complexities of marriage are a true compliment to her empathy for the human condition and spirit. She doesn’t shy away from the bold feelings a woman feels whilst betwixt one man’s affection and another man’s love. She doesn’t chide her characters, but rather, allows their flaws to speak for themselves. She gives them the leeway needed to work through what is difficult to accept much less understand. In so doing, I found myself applauding the tone of the novel as it’s not set to a cadence of rhetoric generally wrought in other stories of the same nature. Eikli brings a refreshing insight into the tedium of balance between the choice between life and death.

A historical backdrop in France & the Napoleonic War Era:

In several of my reading pursuits, I have become familiar with how intricately connected the British were to the efforts to overthrow Napoleon out of power. His reign was not studied whilst I was in school but I have come to assert myself in enough historical readings through fictional accounts, to acknowledge not only his brutality but his convinced stance that he would one day take over the world. He was truly maniacal in his approach and his dedication to conquer! Having said that, I was always a bit fascinated by the men and women who devouted their lives to shadow ops and covert missions which would keep the fragile balance between war and peace hanging in perpetual balance! Teetering on the edges, most surely, these daring men and women evoke stories I have always enjoyed reading — they give a second glance at the situation through pairs of eyes who are not readily revealed in regular outlets of historical facts. They give the undercurrent direction of where the most sought after change started to occur and how change ultimately won out over war.

Women’s equality was nonexistent hitherto to encompass her rights to raise a child out of wedlock as much as stand on her own feet if circumstances had erupted out of her control. Women’s rights have been long in coming throughout history, but when you step back into a world where even the right to raise your own child is taken away from you, you start to realise how far we have all come to maintain the rights that we have! I was quite impressed too, with the visual imagery and descriptions of Angus’s fortuitous nature and inclination of knowing exactly how to keep his wife both calm and warm during the worst of her  near-miscarriage sessions!  Soldiers were always needing to be diverse in knowledge, not only for battle and of apprising the field for hidden dangers, but stalwart in their abilities to survive through medical emergencies. I was thankful to see his character was rounded out in being more than whom he first appeared!

The political landscape of France was fraught with surreptitious clandestine activities, its a wonder that either side was able to muddle out truth and fact from the packet of lies spewed out in sport! Such a waxing of time to uncover the tenuous strands of loyalty, whilst fear caught the surge for overthrowing the injustices! I have always been curious about the complexities of the era, yet through this book and others set in the same era of time, I am wrought to find there is nothing simple about the succession of peace during times of war! Details of the nuisances of uncovering little steps towards this end are woven into The Reluctant Bride as one hears gentle whispers tied into the winds.

A note on behalf of ChocLitUK novels:

A level of distinction should be noted in both the presentation of  their novels and in the manner in which each novel is produced! I personally love the comfortable size of the paperbacks, as well as the quality of the print! A smooth surface cover page with semi-raised letterings to draw attention to the title and author’s name. The familiar heart-shaped ChocLit insignia are featured as well! I like how they cross-coordinate the cover features with the story held within the book’s pages! The font and text are easy to read and decipher, and I appreciate the old-fashioned inclusion of writers and titles offered through the Publisher in the back-pages of the novel! A feature I always found to be most delightful in my younger years as it was such a rush of excitement to see which author I would discover next off a recommendation inside the book I had just read! In this particular case, the only noticeable continuity issue I felt was visible is that Emily’s hair isn’t flaxseed brown (of which was reflective of Jessamine) but rather raven black! The model for Emily does portray her downcast countenance which is true to form of how we are greeted by Emily once she is settled-in with Angus! The precipice of when her life starts to undergo its greatest change! Slipping into the worlds created by ChocLit authors is a soothing reproach from the woes of everyday life! All in all, a ChocLit novel is quite the decadent treat for the discernible chocolate connoisseur and romantic reader!

A side note on the language inside their novels can only be said to warm this particular wordsmith’s heart! All the lovely British words are inclusive to the context as much as new words I haven’t oft seen revealed in romances! Words such as envisaged and commodious, only served to whet my appetite for more of their novels, where the age of seeking out a fluidity of words continues to carry-on! Such a wonderful joy for anyone who appreciates stories woven together by Jane Austen and others of the 19th Century!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

“The Recluctant Bride” Book Trailer [A Napoleonic Espionage Romance] by Animoto via Beverley Eikli 

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com This book review is courtesy of ChocLitUK,
ChocLitUK Reviewercheck out my upcoming bookish event and mark your calendars!

#ChocLitSaturdays | a feature exclusive to Jorie Loves A Story

*NEWSFLASH* : This marks my first *#ChocLitSaturdays*, where I will be spotlighting a book published by ChocLitUK! Coordinating bonus features will alight on my blog in forthcoming weeks! My next ChocLit review will be for “A Bargain Struck” by Liz Harris, on the 18th of January!

{SOURCES: Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and Book Cover were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. The book trailer by Animoto had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Jorie Loves A Story badge created by Ravven with edits by Jorie in FotoFlexer.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 11 January, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Britian, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Espionage, France, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Marriage of Convenience, Midwives & Childbirth, Modern British Literature, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, The Napoleonic War Era, the Regency era, Women's Fiction




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