A Reluctant Bride by Jess Michaels
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Shelley Sisters, #1
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Thomasina Shelly is hopelessly attracted to Jasper Kincaid, the Earl of Harcourt. Hopeless because Jasper is engaged to marry her sister Anne in a week.
Theirs is not a love match, Jasper contracted a marriage with her father to marry one of the Shelly sisters who happen to be identical triplets. He didn’t care which one he married, he just needed the dowry to right the wrongs to the estate made by his father and brother. But the more time he has spent with the girls, the more he wishes he had asked for Thomasina.
Thomasina would never betray her sisters, she is the “good one” and when Anne expresses unhappiness about the marriage, she tries to comfort her and assure her that it will all work out – even though she wishes she was the one marrying Jasper. Anne is so upset that when she begs Thomasina to pretend to be her at the engagement ball so she can have a quiet evening alone, Thomasina reluctantly agrees. The problem is Jasper can do what no other can – he can tell Thomasina from her sisters. He wonders why she is pretending to be Anne and goes as far as to try and kiss her. Shocked, Thomasina runs from him and decides to tell Anne that she can’t continue the ruse – but so learns why Anne wanted her to pretend to be her – Anne has eloped.
When he learns of Anne’s elopement, Jasper insists that Thomasina marry him in Anne’s place and she agrees. Jasper is upset that she tried to trick him and makes her promise to always be honest with him, and in the spirit of honesty, he tells her that he is not looking for a love match and probably won’t be able to love her, he is attracted to her and he likes her and tells her that he hopes she can accept that.
Jasper learns who Anne eloped with – one of his wastrel brother Solomon’s friends. He then learns that Ellis Maitland has not married Anne, he has passed her off to a relative Rook Maitland and will not return her until Jasper returns the “treasure” his brother took from him before he died. Jasper has no idea what the treasure is and keeps this information from Thomasina.
They marry and it seems like things are going well between them, Thomasina knows she is in love with Jasper and tries to forge a deeper relationship, but when she learns he has been keeping secrets from her, she is crushed and Jasper realizes too late what he has lost.
I thought this was a good story, it is well written and flows at a good pace, with likeable characters, steamy love scenes, a bit of mystery and a HEA with a nice lead into the next book. This is the first book in a new series and I am happy to recommend it.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*