Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ARC Review: How to Lose a Bride in One Night by Sophie Jordan

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Annalise Hadley is the latest of Jack Hadley's daughters to be found and then married off. As the Duchess of Bloodsworth, Annalise can't help but feel that she is living a fairy-tale dream: rescued from her position as seamstress and told that she is an heiress, then now married to her own prince. But the dream quickly turns into a nightmare when, on her honeymoon, her new husband, the Duke of Bloodsworth, reveals his evil intentions and almost succeeds in killing her.

Tossed off the ship, Annalise is helpless as the waves and the cold and the rocks batter her body -- but, just when she was about to give in, she is rescued.

Owen Crawford returned from India to find his childhood love, Paget, married to his older brother, Jamie. While happy for them, Owen needs some solitude to work out the demons that he has brought along with him from the war. On his way to London, he spots Annalise washed on the shores and rescues her.

After weeks of being unconscious, Annalise wakes up to find this strange man tending to her in a gypsy camp -- he tells her he isn't a hero and cannot be trusted, but Annalise's instincts know that Owen isn't like her husband. But, can she trust him with her secrets? Not yet, and so Annalise becomes Anna -- a woman with no memory and no past -- Anna who is refuses to be a victim and a passive observer to life -- and the first thing she boldly claims is Owen.

When I read the preview for this in Sophie Jordan's e-novella, The Earl in My Bed, the premise instantly intrigued me: a broken soldier home from war, a woman almost-murdered on her wedding night -- I knew I needed to read this book when it came out.

The story starts out really nicely, setting up the difficult predicament that Annalise finds herself in: she's an heiress and, now, a duchess -- but her husband believes he killed her and she's rescued by a most reluctant hero. It's a very exciting start and kept me reading one chapter and then the next one, wanting to find out how the story will end.

The first eight chapters focus on Annalise's recovery from her most harrowing honeymoon ordeal. I thought it was symbolic that the limp that had afflicted Annalise since childhood had been fixed by Mirela, signaling that this is no longer the old Annalise but an Annalise reborn and restored.

No more pity. She wouldn't pity herself ever again. Even if she couldn't walk. She was finished letting things happen to her. she would make her own fate from now on.
- loc 661 to 665

What drew me to this story was the complicated situation Annalise finds herself in: she is married but her husband attempted to kill her and now she finds herself falling in love with her rescuer, Owen, who has even more baggage than she does. There didn't seem to be a clear path to a happy ending for Annalise and Owen and I wondered how Sophie Jordan would resolve it.

No such happy ending would occur unless some conditions were met: Annalise must stop being a victim and Annalise must start telling the truth. The first half of the story focuses on Annalise finding her power and her voice -- there were times when her actions felt inconsistent but I realize that it was part of her development: that tentative-ness. Part of Annalise's empowerment also came from discovering her sensuality -- it was implied in the story that she never felt attractive, loved or desired.

It is the second condition that really frustrated me. With every lie/half-truth, I saw Annalise digging a deeper and deeper hole, one that I couldn't see her getting out of. Owen knows she is lying and allows her to live within the safety of her lies -- but when their relationship becomes complicated by the physical aspect, it becomes imperative for Owen to find out the truth about Annalise. And yet Annalise refused.

Why couldn't she tell him? She lists several reasons:
- initially, it was because she didn't know if she could trust Owen
- then, when she found out that Owen was an Earl, she worried that, as a fellow peer of the realm, Owen would turn her over to her husband
- she couldn't tell Owen to keep him safe from her husband

The reasons are valid, I accept -- but it was still frustrating to have them develop a relationship based on Annalise's lies. (And I didn't like her at this point, especially when her omission about her marital status led Owen, an honorable man, to commit the most dishonorable act of adultery -- without his knowledge.) It was clear that their relationship would cause them both a world of grief once Annalise's real life catches up to them.

How does Owen react to the truth when it is finally revealed? How does Annalise handle her villainous husband? Is there a happily-ever-after ending for Owen and Annalise? Read the novel to find out.

A bit of a warning: the story starts and moves a bit slowly. In the first half of the book, the author focuses on Annalise's growth (and in a more subtle way, shows us how Owen finds his reason for living/being by helping her).

Her trust in him was utter and complete and baffling. She looked at him as though he were truly something good and heroic. Someone who could teach her to protect herself against everything evil in this world. Even as he tried to warn her that he might very well be the thing she most needed protection from.
- loc 1426 to 1437

The story starts picking up speed at Chapter 15 and the momentum continues to build from that point up to the end. This was not as focused and as captivating as Wicked in your Arms (my favorite in the series) or as poignant and tightly-written as The Earl in my Bed and I wished Sophie Jordan took a different approach in resolving the story -- but what I did appreciate about How to Lose a Bride in One Night is how it highlights the idea of rebirth/reinvention: Owen and Annalise are two souls whose old lives have broken and betrayed them -- together, they discover a new space, a new life, a new version of themselves with each other.

"Do not comfort me."

"What shall I do then?" she whispered. "Pretend I don't care?"

"I don't want you to care. You shouldn't care."

Her gaze scanned his face. "Too late," she whispered, and firmly pressed her lips to his.
- loc 3078

How to Lose a Bride in One Night will be released on July 30, 2013. It is Book 3 in Sophie Jordan's Forgotten Princesses series. To find out more about Sophie Jordan and her books, click below:


Disclosure: I received the ARC through Edelweiss. (Thank you to Sophie Jordan and to Avon for accepting my request.) Yes, this is an honest review.


  1. You always have such awesome reviews!

  2. So excited to get and read this novel! Thanks for your fabulous review.

  3. Hi, Melissa and Connie!

    *blush* -- thank you for the wonderful compliment!

  4. Exciting. Everygirl would lost herself in the fairy wedding dress faced with her princess charming.



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