In Duncan’s Bride, Linda Howard tells a story of resilience through the characters of Madelyn and Reese. This is an enjoyable read, with steamy bedroom scenes and a satisfying ending.
#349: Silhouette Intimate Moments
Duncan’s Bride has an old-school plot, even by the standards of romances written in 1990. (That wasn’t a long time ago!) In Silhouette Intimate Moments #349 by Linda Howard, a 28-year-old beauty from New York City travels across the country to become the mail-order bride of a hero who’s damn lucky to get her.
Madelyn, the shining star of this romance, is 28 years old and has worked for her stepbrother’s company for a few years. Although she’s hit a wall in her career, she’s secure in her identity. Madelyn is funny, outspoken, and friendly. She’s a lovely woman with no baggage.
On the other hand, Gideon “Reese” Duncan carries a 5-piece set of Samsonite luggage packed full of bricks. He’s a divorced rancher in Montana who decides it’s time to settle down with a new wife.
Years ago, his first marriage ended in disaster when his gorgeous ex left him, bored with life in the country. Reese was forced to sell his family lands and lay off the workers to liquidate his assets, which were split 50-50.
Embittered by a disappointing first marriage and impoverished by the divorce settlement, it has taken Reese years to dig himself out of the financial hole his ex left him in. He runs his ranch all alone, working from dawn until midnight, caring for his livestock. Reese’s house is in shambles, he drives an old truck, and his ranch has been running at a loss for years.
Now that he might turn a profit, getting a wife seems like the logical next step. But this time, Reese wants marriage based on practicality rather than passion. He places a frank, unromantic ad in a few small-town newspapers, stating his blunt needs with no offer of love. What a catch this guy is!
Madelyn, who, despite being a big city girl, happens to subscribe to small-town newspapers to keep up with “real life and real people.” She sees Reese’s ad and is intrigued. So much so that Maddie drops a letter in the mail responding to him. She dreamily wonders about the kind of man seeking a bride through the post.
She soon finds out. Reese offers Madelyn a bus ticket from NYC to Montana (bus tickets he can’t afford, mind you); she insists on flying out to see him. It’s an instant attraction for them both. Reese concedes that he would like nothing more than to have Madelyn’s legs wrapped around his waist. (He says this, plus lots of other sexy things to Maddie.)
However, she’d never be suited for wife material. Disappointed, Madelyn leaves the next day, but not before the two share a passionate kiss.
That’s all it takes for her to fall in love with Reese. She flies back to the Big Apple, nursing a broken heart. It’s only when Reese’s other options for wives turn out to be duds that he agrees to take Madelyn as his bride.
That’s after she signs a prenuptial agreement, which stipulates she doesn’t get a penny in case of divorce. He’s had enough of gold diggers and won’t get shafted again.
Like I said, What a catch, eh?
Reese isn’t the worst, but he’s so hung up on the pain his first marriage brought that he’s a hard character to like. Madelyn is wonderful, working hard to transform his house into a comforting home again. She paints the siding, tends to the animals, and makes passionate love with Resse.
One thing Linda Howard does right is knowing how to write erotic love scenes. Besides the fantastic heroine, the sexy moments are the highlights of this romance.
As for Reese, my goodness, is that man a blockhead? Yes, he’s good-looking, possessive, virile, and has all those alpha traits that make a Romancelandia hero swoon-worthy. He also has this wonderful, amazing woman by his side who’s willing to go through hardships, facing them head-on with vigor, proving repeatedly that she’s worthy of his love.
The problem is that Reese is undeserving of Madelyn’s devotion. There were so many moments when I wanted Madelyn to give Reese the old heave-ho. Ultimately, Madelyn and Reese both have to face the truth alone. I disliked part of the conclusion and how Reese came to his epiphany, but stubborn men will be stubborn men, and Reese is just that.
Final Analysis of Duncan’s Bride
I wondered why this book was called Duncan’s Bride, not Reese’s Bride. Duncan’s Bride does have a nicer ring, then why not name the hero Duncan Reese instead of Reese Duncan? Pointless questions like that plague me.
I would have given this book an average positive review if not for the greatness that was Madelyn. Despite her fine qualities, she was far from perfect and Reese was fallibly human. In the end, love wins. So I was happy for Maddie, even though the man she had her heart set on wasn’t an easy man to love.
Reviewed by Introvert Reader