Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book Review: The Elusive Bride

Stephanie Laurens is an auto-buy author for me.  I buy her books no matter what they are about.  Her books aren't always great or the kind of story that I will remember and re-read, but I pretty much always enjoy the reading experience.  There are some romance novelists that seem like lazy writers to me, and I would never put Laurens in that category.  Her books may be very similar to each other, but I can usually tell that she has put serious thought into the plot.

So I'm a little disappointed to discover that I didn't really enjoy reading The Elusive Bride.  It's a bummer because I was really looking forward to it as it is the second in her Black Cobra quartet and the sequel to The Untamed Bride, which I enjoyed.

Laurens does step outside of her formula a bit in The Elusive Bride, so maybe that's what did it.  Instead of being set entirely in England, the books spans the characters' journey from India to England by land and by sea, and thus there was considerable focus on the journey and events along the journey instead of the romantic relationship.

I gave a synopsis of the basic plot of the quartet when I reviewed The Untamed Bride, so I won't repeat it.  Suffice to say that the Black Cobra cultists are chasing the heroes of the books because the heroes have something they want.  That's fine, I get it, but The Elusive Bride is pretty much nothing but cultists attacking the traveling party again and again and again, always unsuccessfully.  Not a single member of the traveling party perishes and only one is ever injured.  Boooring.

There were a few deviations from the standard Laurens' formula when it came to the characters, I suppose.  Gareth, the hero, came across as a little more vulnerable than her traditional alpha hero.  He was not the pursuer, the way Laurens' heroes usually are.  That should have worked for me, but I don't think Laurens fully exploited the opportunities she set up there.  Something about it just didn't feel right.  I think it might have been that the reader didn't know enough about Gareth to really connect with or understand him.  The heroine, Emily, was very likable, I thought.  And the reader got to know her well.  But again, something was missing, and I think it was genuine conflict.

This is a romance novel, as such, standard genre elements should be followed (I think.)  The conflict in this book was all about the traveling party being attacked by cultists.  Any conflict between Gareth and Emily felt forced or contrived.  Definitely not genuine.  Also, Laurens kind of deviated from her usual sex scenes, too.  They seemed much shorter than usual.  That's not necessarily a bad thing (as she tends to overdo it in that department), but it just made it feel even less like a Laurens' book.

Finally, after reading The Untamed Bride, my sister complained about the misleading title.  The same thing happens here!  Emily is the pursuer in the romance, no question about it.  The whole relationship aspect is predicated on her determination to discover if Gareth is "The One" for her and then convincing him that she is "The One" for him.  Not exactly my definition of "elusive."


Shannon said...

I'm over SL; even the sex scenes put me to sleep. But what do you expect when married to a real-life romance novel hero!?

Lindsey Lou said...

Oh gag me. This site is for you.