Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

It always takes me a while to write down a Sherry Thomas review -- usually a week to ten days. Her books always leave me in a state of awe, mesmerized at how beautifully a love story can be told -- and how the same story can be told in a fresh, new, and beautiful way.

Throughout the series, David and Helena's relationship served as a foil against her siblings' relationships: Fitz and Millie & Venetia and Christian -- and, while her siblings were able to find their happily-ever-after endings, it didn't seem that David and Helena would ever see eye to eye on anything.

David has loved Helena long before he knew the language to express it, so he did what all fourteen-year-old boys did to gain attention -- he tormented her.

As they grew older, his love for her grew but her enmity for him grew even more. And then Helena falls in love with someone else -- and continued to love the man even after he got married to someone else.

David and Helena have such a deep history of hostility between them that I wondered how Sherry Thomas would pull off erasing all that anger to give David and Helena a chance. And "erase" is exactly what Thomas did -- after an accident, Helena wakes up with amnesia.

The new Helena likes David and, without her memories, David has a chance to do everything properly -- having nearly lost her in the accident, David is unapologetic about and unashamed to openly declare his love for Helena. What is wonderful about David is that he doesn't hold back anything -- he helps her to remember when she asks questions about people or places. And is very honest about it.

There is one heartbreaking moment, when Helena's lover, Andrew Martin, pays her a visit while she has amnesia -- and David, though afraid that seeing him might jar her memory, steps aside because he wants nothing more than to make his Helena whole and healthy again.

A footman entered. "Mr. Andrew Martin to see you, Lady Hastings. Are you at home to him?"

She looked at her husband, "The same Mr. A.G.F. Martin?"

He turned to the footman. "You may show Mr. Martin here in five minutes."

"Why make him wait that long?"

His answer was another kiss -- this time one that would have made for a proper first kiss. It felt like speaking, almost, to kiss this way, syllables turned into contact of lips. The movement of his lips and tongue said that he adored and cherished her, that he could kiss her like this forever and never stop.


"Whatever happens, remember that I love you. That I have always loved you."
- pp. 175-176

As Helena's memories slowly return to her, it is a bittersweet moment when she finally remembers David and he watches helplessly as Helena slowly puts back her wall of defense against him.

But the old Helena cannot deny the kindness and love that David has shown her while she was recovering. And she cannot deny the happiness she feels when she is around him.

This is a story about a second chance at love but is very different from all other stories about second chances -- in David and Helena, Sherry Thomas has, to date, created her most human characters: they hurt as much as they get hurt -- and they love as much as they hate. All those heartbreakingly difficult dimensions that makes people who they are.

Tempting the Bride is a fantastic love story -- one that leaves readers with a sense of hope and confidence in the amazing ability of love to conquer all -- that love can happen against all odds. (And that, yes, it can rain in the Sahara.)

This one is a keeper.



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