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Thursday, July 10, 2014

ARC Review: Broslin Bride by Dana Marton

BROSLIN BRIDE is the fifth entry in Dana Marton’s popular Broslin Creek romantic suspense series, but it can be read as a standalone and/or introduction to the series, since characters from previous instalments only make brief, spoiler-free cameos. The full-length novels in the series lean toward the darker end of the RS spectrum, so the lighter, humorous tone of this novella was a refreshing change of pace thatwas executed with the same skill as Ms. Marton’s darker work. It’s no secret that novellas are often the bane of my reading existence, but—whilst it suffers from the usual lightning-speed relationship development pitfall of the format—BROSLIN BRIDE read more like a short novel than a typical novella and delivered a layered storyline with a fast-moving plot and solid characters.

We first meet heroine Luanne Mayfair as she stands contemplating the damage to her car that indicates she may have run her boss over during a night out she can’t remember clearly. Said boss was a dodgy lecher who constantly harassed the maids at his motel and who won’t be sorely missed, but as the sole guardian of her twin four-year-old sisters, Luanne needs to get away with murder whilst former high-school flame and current Broslin PD detective Chase Merritt investigates. But did she really do it… and if not, who’s framing her for murder? What follows is a fast-moving plot full of misdirection and a somewhat-implausible twist that had me raising a skeptical eyebrow but that I could roll with because it was such a fun ride.

I really liked and had great respect for Luanne. She quit her studies and moved back home to raise her baby twin sisters after their father split and her mum died of breast cancer, and she works multiple cleaning jobs to make ends meet as well she can. Despite being perpetually broke and exhausted from working, she does an excellent job ensuring the twins have the best life possible, and her willingness to do anything—even (seemingly) lie to the police—to keep the twins is commendable. She’s an incredibly strong character who’s held her own and kept her family together—her biggest motivation as a character—in the face of adversity, and she’s so warm and loving you can’t help but want to be friends with her. Even with her incredible naïveté, which is endearing rather than annoying. And, oh, Chase… be still, my heart! Romantic suspense tends to be dominated by an overabundance of alpha maleness, but I prefer my heroes to be less testosterone-laden. Chase is the rock-solid, all-around good guy with a badge you want to take home to meet your mum, and the little things he does for Luanne beyond protecting her are incredibly endearing. Case in point: constantly over-ordering food whenever they’re together to ensure she eats a decent meal and has leftovers for the twins. Their past history—whilst clearly taking the place of the traditional meet-cute and serving as the standard novella trick to pave the way to a somewhat-believable accelerated HEA—is also equal parts hilarious and cute and fits perfectly with the humorous-but-intense tone of the novel: underwhelmed by her first sexual experience, Luanne inadvertently ruins teenage Chase’s reputation and spends the next decade avoiding him. With the murder investigation, Chase finally has the opportunity to redeem himself and convince Luanne to give him a second chance—forever. Whilst we get some delicious sexytimes, it’s in this area where the shortcomings of the novella format are most evident: with a strong focus on the plot, Ms. Marton relies on that past history as the source of the chemistry between Luanne and Chase rather than building it up and developing it as the story progresses.

BROSLIN BRIDE is an extremely fun, quick read that’s a great addition to the Broslin Creek series and serves a good launching pad for new readers to get into the series. Looking forward to the next book!

**ARC provided by Author**

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