ARC Review: The Bride Behind the Curtain by Darcie Wilde

15:25 Cilla P 0 Comments

Title: The Bride Behind the Curtain (Regency Makeover Part 1)
Author: Darcie Wilde
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Romance
Source: eARC provided via NetGalley
Synopsis: Even wallflowers find a way to bloom...

They were dismissed as hopeless—girls too plain, too shy, too gauche to stand any chance in the ruthless competition of the London season. But Helene Fitzgerald, Madelene Valmeyer, and Adele Edmundson have no intention of remaining wallflowers. Aided by the notorious novelist, Deborah Sewell, they form the Wallflower Pact and set out to find true love for themselves—and maybe even their chaperone.

The Bride Behind the Curtain

Adele Edmundson has always been considered too plump and too awkward for the fashionable world. But the girl has a discerning eye for fashion, filling notebooks with designs for beautiful dresses. She also has an eye for the dashing son of French expatriates, James Beauclaire. With a little help from her friends, and a talented modiste's assistant, Adele's gowns take society by storm and she begins a secret flirtation with James, who finds himself torn between family loyalties and true love. But as all Adele's impossible dreams begin to come true, can she resist the temptations of a world suddenly throwing itself at her feet?

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I don't read a lot of historical romance, but two things drew my attention to The Bride Behind the Curtain. One was the author; I loved her Regency mystery novel (as you can see here) and wanted to read more. The other was the premise of the story itself; I'm always drawn to wallflowers and characters who struggle to fit society's standards, and Adele is exactly that. I figured I was going in for a charming read with relatable characters, and that was what I got.

Let's talk about my favourite thing first: the leading lady. Adele is highly relateable to me in her self-consciousness and slightly awkward manners. I was initially wary of the makeover arch, that it might involve that trope where the plump girl loses weight and becomes society-approved kind of beautiful in order to win true love. Thankfully, that didn't happen! There was weight loss involved, but the story didn't focus on what she was or wasn't eating; it focused on her following a passion and gaining autonomy. That made me happy.

I squirm a little whenever insta-love happens, though I can live with it in this genre. There was definitely chemistry between Adele and James Beauclaire, and I enjoyed the course their relationship takes. James is lovable as a romantic hero in his gentleness, and I like his personal journey. I just wish we had more pages to explore that journey.

In fact, the biggest let-down for me is how slim this book is. There were plenty of exciting storylines to follow - The Wallflower Pact, the romance, James' struggles, Adele's family dynamics, James' family dynamics - but not enough space to let them all play out in depth. I'm aware that this is the first book in a trilogy, so perhaps it was deliberate that some things were left vague.

All in all, this was a sweet read with fascinating heroines. I would have liked to have some parts of it elaborated on, but historical romance fans looking for a quick read would enjoy it as it is. As for me, I want to know more about our wallflowers, so I will be reading on!

(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The publication date is 15/03/2016.)

Reading this book contributes to the following challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge


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