Jade Lee's hot Bridal Favors series is set in a daring, high-energy Regency world where deep longings, secret scandals, and the competition for social stature are all set against the glittering weddings of the season.
Grant Benton, Earl of Crowle, finally has the funds he always pretended to have, and what he wants now is a woman. That woman is Lady Irene Knopp, who spends her days helping debutantes plan their weddings. A recent widow, Irene longs for love again, but she's afraid to risk her heart, especially to the notorious Grant Benton
What the Bride Wore was a book that managed to get me through a very long, very uncomfortable train journey.
Ok, first things first I have to admit I have a huge sticking point with this book. Grant, our hero, is ever so slightly insane. Literally, insane. Grant hears voices, yes they're often humorous, but call me old fashioned I've never found someone who hears voices sexy. Maybe that's just me. However, other than that minor flaw, Grant is a perfect historical hero.
With his father's actions resulting in the sale of ancestral Crowle lands, Grant vows (with a little persuasion) to work to get them back, to do so he leaves behind his title and begins to run a textile mill. Grant's pride doesn't allow for him to let his family know what he is doing, or even gain any satisfaction out of working - something which he views as beneath his station. Grant is perhaps a little too proud and self-sacrificing a character for me but he makes a likeable hero nonetheless.
Irene, our widowed heroine, is intelligent and shrewd, which makes a delightful change from the usual historical ingenue. On learning Grant's true origins Irene is wary, not believing the life of the aristocracy to be one for her; she being far too used to her middleclass'd independence. For himself, Grant cannot wait to leave behind the toil of his manufacturing ways and once again embrace the life of a nobleman. What transpires throughout the novel is a delightful compromise which allows for a deeper connection between the reader and the characters as both sides of the argument are made clear and sympathetic.
Grant and Irene make for an interesting and enjoyable couple, I feel that the more level playing field between the two makes their relationship much more satisfying. The couple also share quite a strong sexual chemistry and with our heroine being a widow and our hero considered a bit of a rake the sex scenes are a little spicier than usual.
Finally, in my opinion the plot does suffer from an omnipresent 'danger' that never really seems to surface or come to fruition, something which I feel Lee could definitely have utilised more. It became a bit annoying to constantly have this 'danger' and suspense lurking on the edges of the plot without really becoming a driving force.
Fans of the series will be delighted to see Will, Grant's brother, back, as well as an exploration of the events in Winning a Bride from Grant's point of view. While, like many series What the Bride Wore's true potential is reached when enjoyed as part of the Bridal Favours series it does also make a successful and enjoyable standalone novel.
* Free copy received from NetGalley in return for an honest review, What the Bride Wore is out now (go get it).