Posted by Ruby Johnson
New York Times bestselling author Connie Brockway’s latest novel, The Other Guy’s Bride, is the first book to be released by Amazon Publishing in their new Montlake Romance line. This was the first Connie Brockway book I've read and I have to admit… I really was impressed.
The genre: Historical romance taking place in Egypt at the turn of the century.
The heroine. Ginesse Braxton the eldest child and only daughter of famed Egyptologists had been around Egypt’s archeology for most of her life. Because she attracts trouble just about everyplace she goes, she is sent back to England where she completes a degree in ancient history at Cambridge. While studying some ancient texts, she runs across some obscure facts that might lead to the ancient lost city of Zerzura. She feels this discovery might be her redemption and chance to establish herself in the field of Egyptology as well as her place in a famous family.
Now all she has to do is find someone to guide her hundreds of miles across the Sahara. She sets off for Egypt where she meets a fellow passenger, Mildred Whimplehall, suffering from a terrible case of seasickness. Mildred is traveling to Egypt to marry a British Army officer stationed at an outpost not far from where Ginesse feels her lost city might be found. The officer, Colonel Lord Pomfrey, sends a man he describes as a scoundrel, to escort his fiancée after she arrives in Cairo. But poor Mildred can’t tolerate another minute of sea travel and Ginesse sees her chance. Ginesse talks the young woman into disembarking and taking the long scenic route to Egypt by train. She then travels on under Mildred’s name where she introduces herself to Jim Owens who has been charged with bringing Mildred to her fiancé.
The hero. The only thing James Owens loathes more than Colonel Lord Pomfrey is the debt he owes the man for saving his life seven years ago. James, known across Egypt and Northern Africa as a deadly soldier of fortune, has agreed to escort Mildred Whimpelhall across the Sahara in order to pay his debt. As he waits at the crowded train station in Cairo, ruing the fact he has to spend the next weeks with a proper English spinster, he runs into one of the few people he calls a friend, Haji Elkamal. The urbane and educated Haji has been sent to pick up Ginesse, with whom he has a long and combative history. Jim thinks, despite her astonishingly hideous coiffure, she’s gorgeous. Haji, thrown off by the red hair and dark glasses she’s donned, doesn’t recognize her. The encounter is perfectly done and extremely funny. Ginesse pretends to mistake Haji for a common servant and treats him as such. Jim acts the part of the rough, uncouth cowboy — no one will be surprised to learn that Jim Owens is more than what he seems to be — while cracking up at Ginesse/Mildred’s insults to Haji.
The romantic challenge. Ginesse can hardly wait to meet the American cowboy hired by Colonel Lord Pomfrey to escort Mildred — Ginesse, now — across the Sahara. But when she does she's less than impressed. He's rude, and smelly, and seems suspiciously more English than American., Jim expects his charge to be as prim and prudish as her fiancé. But Mildred is not only beautiful, she's stubborn, endearing and an accident waiting to happen. She's also spoken for. Now Jim's task is more complicated than ever. Not only does he have to transport Pomfrey's betrothed safely across the desert, but he finds himself trying to hold onto his honor while never guessing that Mildred/Ginesse also harbors secrets. He struggles from taking — in every sense of the word — the other guy's bride. Ms. Brockway writes dazzling dialogue and humor. Scene after scene in this book is laugh out loud funny while at the same time poignant. The setting, characterization, and dialogue (filled with subtext) all are superb..
For example this passage occurs after Jim rescues Ginesse from the Nile:
She opened her eyes, blinking through the muddy water still streaming down her face, and found Jim Owens looking down at her. Of course. She'd known it was him the moment he'd touched her. His face was a mask, inscrutable and stony, his gray eyes roving over her face, touching on her hair, her mouth, and finally meeting her eyes.
"You dove in after me," she said, her voice faint and wondering.
He seemed to find this amusing, for his mouth curled at the corner again and she took that for a smile. "Did you think I wouldn't?"
She answered before she had time to consider. "I didn't expect you."
"I didn't expect you, either." His voice seemed odd, somehow nonplussed.
On setting, here’s Ginesse’s view as her train slides into the city she loves:
Minarets pointed heavenward like slender fingers, while beneath them the round domes of the mosques glowed as smooth and white as a concubine’s breasts. To the south, the old city jumbled in fanciful confusion along twisting alleys and narrow, rutted lanes in direct contrast to the ponderous purposefulness of the European district with its orderly houses and wide, lebbeck-canopied avenues. The afternoon wind had begun churning dust from the streets and shaking it over Cairo’s head like a manic cleaner woman beating a rug, enveloping the city in a shimmering shroud.
Ms. Brockway makes her fictional world vivid, real, and enticing. But the book's truly strong elements make its few weak ones stand out. The last several chapters seemed repetitive without emotional substance with Ginesse working herself up into one silly tizzy after another. Putting Jim through torture when she could have cleared the air in a paragraph or two seemed unnecessary and it was frustrating to watch her abuse and reject Jim because he doesn’t understand what she is upset about or what she wants.
Even so, this is a romance that will hold your interest from start to finish and is well worth reading.
The Other Guys Bride is available in paperback or digital from Amazon. ( free for Amazon Prime members) You can also see more of Connie Brockway’s work on her Amazon Page or Facebook Page.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this review. If you did or if you’ve read the book, share your comments..
Ruby Johnson is a member of GFW Writers and writes fiction and non-fiction. When not writing she spends time cooking, reading, gardening (though she hasn't been too successful recently) and traveling.