The Other Guy’s Bride (Braxton #2)

The Other Guy's BrideBy Connie Brockway

Publisher: Amazon Montlake
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Publisher

Determined to prove her worth as a budding archeologist, Genisse Braxton vows to solve one of the world’s greatest mysteries–to find the location of the lost city of Zerzura. Unfortunately, no man dares take the risk of escorting the resolute young scholar across the open desert. But on her way to Egypt, Genisse engages in a daring deception–she will switch places with Mildred Whimpelhall, who is traveling to meet her fiancé.

Cynical adventurer Jim Owen will do anything to escape the dark secrets of his troubled past. Betrayed by the woman he loved, scorned by proper society, he agrees to carry out a danger-fraught task: escort Mildred Whimpelhall across a lawless desert to her intended. But Jim is about to learn that “Mildred” isn’t exactly what she seems…and the dangers they face together are eclipsed only by an even greater peril: falling in love, against all reason, with another guy’s bride..

Goodreads Summary

Genisse Braxton has a pressing problem – she needs to find someone to escort her to a remote location in the middle of the desert so she can be the first person to unearth a lost Egyptian city. She has two strikes against her before she even sets foot in the country, the simplest one being that she really doesn’t have enough money to pay anyone. The worst is that she’s the only daughter of famed Egyptologist Harry Braxton. Her reputation precedes her – she’s a walking disaster, a fire hazard, a bad omen, a guarantee of trouble, broken bones and anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Then serendipity in the form of a seasick cabin mate appears. A tiny bit of subterfuge later and Mildred Whimpelhall has been happily bundled onto a train bound for Egypt and Genisse has continued…as Mildred, the woman expected to be traveling across the desert to join her fiancé at a remote military outpost.

A rough man with a dubious reputation by choice, Jim Owen is paying a mark by hauling the presumably delicate Ms. Whimpelhall across the desert to her fiancé. What he gets instead is a determined woman who’s unusually educated about Egypt and is also occasionally irritating, trouble-making and very attractive. Jim is finding it hard enough to get her to her fiancé in one piece since disaster always seems to find her – he’s also falling in love with her.This is the debut book from Amazon’s new Montlake Romance imprint and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I’ve read books from their Encore line and while they were edited and presented well, I’m not sure content-wise they were for me. I really do like Brockway though, so I had more confidence with this. Well, I can say that after reading it, at least this book was a huge success. Not only was the technical quality perfect including that pretty cover, but I loved Jim and Genisse’s story.

The book begins telling some of Jim’s back story, which goes a long way in explaining why he’s reluctant to open up to Genisse. He’s been dealt several cruel blows, first by uncaring relatives and then by his fiancée. He’s come to Egypt essentially a blank slate and remade himself into a sort of honorable scoundrel – he’s got men on his tail but he’s essentially a good guy, right? His exasperation with Genisse was so funny – he went from early anger to eventually just resigned acceptance that she was an inadvertent disaster in a dress.

Even though Genisse has the appearance of coming from a loving family, she’s been just as cut off as Jim has. She’s run to Egypt to prove to her family that she isn’t a failure to be hidden away so finding Zerzura consumes her. She’s been sort of traveling along, blithely leaving all sorts of damage in her wake, focused only on her prize in the desert, until Jim comes along. He shakes her up, infuriates her and makes her think of things other than her research.

Jim and Genisse as separate characters are wonderful enough – they’re interesting and both are a little tragic in their own ways if you think about their backgrounds – but their relationship is the jewel of the story. From the moment she steps off of the boat in Egypt to meet him, they have a terrific spark that starts with just one thought he has about her nose. Their relationship progresses through these wonderful stages of silly, almost slapstick humor to face-slapping exasperation on Jim’s part to an affectionate, sexy and occasionally irritated banter. Since the journey is long, their feelings aren’t forced into a day either, so when the realization hits, it means something. There are two semi-graphic sex scenes, for those sensitive to that.

What I was concentrating on during the story was the fun between Jim and Genisse, but there was an entire plot going on around them too and it didn’t always play out completely perfectly.  The story does struggle a bit in the middle to fill the action, there were a few sort of implausible situations – even considering Genisse’s habit of drawing a near apocalypse from time to time – and the Zezura story comes to a rather odd end.  I wasn’t sure it would be what Genisse wanted after how she started the story but her family situation had changed and her relationship with Jim had changed so maybe that affected her feelings. There are also appearances by Genisse’s family, someone from Jim’s, Mildred and her fiancé and a really nice epilogue.

My Summary: I don’t read a lot of historical romance lately because it had been hit by a sameness that left me not knowing who to read but my favorites. What will put authors on my to-buy list are strong characters, great dialogue and most of all a unique relationship between the hero and heroine that’s fun to read. When I can remember the title of the book, the names of the lead characters and some of my favorite lines from the book months after reading it, it’s a winner. I’ve already got my list of lines picked out from this one.

My Rating: A

Barbara

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