Here comes the substitute bride. . . .
Violet Brantford has always longed for the passionate embrace of Adrian Winter, the wealthy Duke of Raeburn. Problem is, he's set to marry Violet's vivacious, more socially polished look-alike twin sister, Jeannette. But when Jeannette refuses to go through with the ceremony mere minutes before it is to begin, soft-spoken Violet finds herself walking down the aisle and taking vows in her sister's place. Soon shy Violet is a high-society wife, trying to keep her real identity a secret while living out the fantasies of her wildest dreams.
Adrian thinks he knows exactly what he's gotten himself into: Jeannette may be flighty and, well, a bit self-involved, but she's the picture-perfect wife to carry on the Winter name. Yet this marriage of convenience brings the groom more than he bargained for when he finds his sweet, innocent wife surprising him at every turn. And though he never planned on true love, Adrian is definitely in danger of losing his heart.
Tracy Anne Warren was chosen as the Author of the Month for December over in the Historical Romance Chat group on Yahoo, and for once I managed to read the book in the month that I was meant to, having finished this book on 19 December! I have to admit that this wasn't an author name that I had never really taken much notice of before - I won't say that I had never heard of her before, but I certainly couldn't remember reading much about her or her books.
Normally I am pretty strict on myself in terms of what I will or won't buy as opposed to borrowing from the library, but I was out at the shops one day and wanted to have something to read while I ate my lunch, and for some reason I didn't have a book in my bag so I went in and bought this one. After reading this one I very quickly ordered the next two in the series!
This books starts out at the wedding of Adrian Winter to Jeanette Rose Brantford, or at least that is who he thinks he married at least! In reality he has married Janette Violet Brantford, called Violet by everyone who knows her, and Jeanette's twin sister. Violet has been in love with Adrian for as long as she can remember and therefore agrees to swapping with Jeanette. Luckily she only has to remove her glasses to be almost identical to her sister.
With the wedding out of the way, Jeanette (masquerading as Violet) is packed off to Italy as a companion to her aunt, and has to behave like Violet, whilst Adrian and Violet go off on their honeymoon, and start to get to know each other. Adrian is somewhat surprised by the almost complete change of personality his bride has had but he attributes it to the fact that she is putting on a performance when in society to be ultimate society Miss, and that this is her real personality - in a way I guess he wasn't too far off.
In the end it is Adrian's brother Kit who sees through the facade and realises that things are not quite as they seem. Adrian realises soon enough that there is something amiss and it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out.
Violet was an extremely likable character - she has been the quiet, bookish younger sister of ultra popular Jeanette, but as she grows more confidence she shows herself to be intelligent, witty and poised and more than good enough to be Adrian's duchess. The only thing about Violet is the ease with which her sister can manipulate her into doing things that she doesn't want to do. There is one too many episodes of swapping places within the book for my liking!
As for Jeanette, she is one of the most selfish and manipulative characters I have read in a long time. She is the heroine of the second book in the trilogy, and to say that the author will have had to work hard to redeem her is probably an understatement. At one point after Adrian and Violet have been happily married for months, Jeanette decides that she actually does want to be married to Adrian and tries to swap places back again - what a bitch!!
Adrian was a good hero, if not exceptional. It took him a while to actually catch on to what was happening around him, and having fallen exceptionally hard for his lovely new while, it took him a long time to come to his senses, but overall he was a very drool worthy hero! As for his younger brother Kit, having already finished the third book in the trilogy I can tell you that he pretty much fulfils the promise shown in this book!
Just a comment on the cover - all of the cover pictures I could find, including the one above show the book with almost candy pink stripes - in reality the pink was a lot more subdued, and was almost metallic in finish. Nowhere near as gaudy as the pictures look!
Whilst there probably wasn't anything truly earth shatteringly original in this book, it was a well written historical romance with strong characters and an engaging storyline!