My rating: Liked the place, but the food was bad
Most people who know me, are frighteningly aware of my love for historical romances. And for the most part I’m pretty easy to please, especially since there are certain types of plots that appeal to me. I tend to avoid those that I’m not a fan of. With A Midsummer Bride, I was sure I had found another book that I would love. It features a quirky, scholarly heroine and a hero that was supposedly awkward with the ladies. Unfortunately, A Midsummer Bride did not live up to my admittedly high standards.
Miss Harriet Burton is an unconventional American heiress that finds herself stuck in England with a grandfather she has never known. Her grandfather is determined not to lose Harriet the way that he lost her mother; naturally the way to avoid this is to marry her off to a peer of the realm and keep her in England. However, Harriet’s unconventional ways make this plan next to impossible. But, the grandfather persists and sets his plan in motion at Duncan Maclachlan, the Earl of Thornton’s, house party.
Harriet is very interested in chemistry and she’s used to everyone thinking that this interest is odd. What’s new for her in England is the animosity generated by her less-than-ladylike ways . Harriet feels completely isolated at the house party, but luckily she finds friendship with the handsome Earl of Thornton, who accepts and admires her despite his own lack of interest in chemistry. However, the relationship can never be more than friendship as Harriet wants to return home to America and Duncan refuses to ever marry a woman with money (even though he needs it), and Harriet’s got pots of it.
I loved the set-up for A Midsummer Bride. The idea of a chemistry-obsessed heroine was fantastic and I was really excited to read Harriet’s character. Unfortunately, I found her to be too much of a caricature. Harriet was so many stereotypes (ie. the outspoken American heiress, the awkward scientist etc.) that it was hard for me to find her a believable character. In the end, I found myself a little bored with Harriet. But, I didn’t want to give up; we still have the hero to consider after all! Again, I was looking forward to Duncan as a character and I loved the idea of him being awkward and the pair of them having an adorably awkward courtship. From my perspective, I have no idea why Duncan had problems with the ladies, because he certainly didn’t in A Midsummer Bride. If readers hadn’t been told this fact about Duncan, I doubt I would have even realized that. So, I was rather disappointed with Duncan’s character and the fairly vanilla interactions between him and Harriet.
I also found the plot to be overly long; in fact I found the entire book to be too long. There were many interruptions from different characters’ points of view, which I found distracting and which took the novel away from the romance. There was also an intrigue plot in the background. I think that the mystery element could have been better had it been more directly related to Harriet and Duncan, rather than some of the side characters that I think will be featured in the next book in the series. That said, A Midsummer Bride might be of more interest to those who aren’t looking for a heavy romance that focuses 100% of the time on the main couple.
Overall, I don’t think A Midsummer Bride was the worst historical romance I’ve ever read. There were elements to the story that I really liked, and the quirky characters and plot was one of them. In the end, I think my expectations were a little too high and I ended up disappointed because of that.
*Review copy provided by NetGalley.
Since I quite enjoy the scholar hero or heroine trope or the awkward type in my historicals, here are some of my top suggestions for books that do this type well:
Love in the Afternoon: Beatrix is the epitome of the unconventional heroine. She’s obsessed with animals of all kinds. Fabulous characterization by Kleypas.
The Marriage Ring: Grace is another unconventional heroine; she’s outspoken and experienced compared the straitlaced Richard. Bonus: their courtship was sufficiently awkward on Richard’s part.
Her Sudden Groom: Here are the awkward scholars that I was looking for! Both Alex and Caroline are fairly awkward and their awkward road to romance was awesome! In fact, the whole Grooms series is filled with unconventional heroes and I highly recommend them.
England’s Perfect Hero: No one’s a scholar here, but the hero, Robert, was certainly awkward with people after his experiences as a prisoner of war.