Review: The Elusive Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Well, after bashing the first book in the Black Cobra Quartet (the review of which you can read here), I'm happy to report that book #2, The Elusive Bride is a HUGE improvement. Not perfect, but much, much better.

I've read a lot of Stephanie Laurens books. In fact, I don't think there's one I haven't read. So I'm really familiar with her writing style. And I can't remember ever reading one that was semi-epistolary before. Along with the complicated adventure narrative, we're treated to diary entries from our heroine, Emily, as she plots and schemes to advance her cause of gaining our hero, Gareth Hamilton, as her husband.

Laurens is infamous for having extremely strong male characters. Dictatorial alpha males who practically leap off of the page. Most of the books are told from an almost male perspective, with many of the heroines fighting for an equal part in the story.  That was NOT the case in this book. Perhaps because Emily gets so much page time via her diary entries. But Gareth seems extremely vague. Almost a background character during most of the book. I didn't really get a clear picture of his character. Nothing about him stood out as memorable. Which isn't like Laurens at all.

Along with her well known standard of using horse/rein metaphors, Stephanie Laurens is also notorious (at least to me) for using the phrase "her lungs seized." I read every new Laurens book with an eye for that phrase. I can't help it. It's a sickness. But I was disappointed. That phrase doesn't appear in the Elusive Bride. But *snicker* the phrase "His lungs seized" made an appearance on page 372.

Overall, though, this book was a big improvement over The Untamed Bride. She seems to have fixed whatever weird thing was going on with her writing style in the first book. The cadence was back to normal; the choppiness wasn't as apparent. And the inclusion of Cynsters and Bastion Club members seemed more organic and less commercially driven.

My Grade: B-

** And just another gripe about the physical book: the print is tiny, tiny, tiny. **

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