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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ARC Review: The Bride Says Maybe by Cathy Maxwell

The Bride Says Maybe by Cathy Maxwell
The Bride Says Maybe by Cathy Maxwell
Publication date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Avon Books
Series: The Brides of Wishmore #2

 Cathy Maxwell write with a flair for comedic sensibility, bring to life two characters who are perfect for each other in a sweet tale of love and understanding, paying homage to “Beauty and the Beast.” ~ Buried Under Romance

Lady Tara Davidson was devastated. By the time she realized she was in love with her friend, Ruary, a stable boy who was her childhood friend, she had already thrown away her chance at happiness. Not only did Ruary marry another, but her own intended groom threw her over for her older sister (all of which happens in the first book, The Bride Says No). And now she comes back to her dilapidated home, only to find that her drunken father had sold her hand in marriage to Breccan Campbell to pay off his debts.

Tara was furious. Breccan, laird of the Campbells, fell for Tara’s beauty at first sight, and secured her father’s vows just to force her hand in marriage. At first, he saw her as a vessel of beauty, a means of pride, for Breccan was seen as a brute – he was not beautiful; he was large as a troll and marrying Tara would give him something to show off. Tara, on the other hand, wanted a frivolous life in London, away from Breccan’s wild Scotland and away from childbirth and children.

So they struck a devil’s bargain: Tara would give Breccan two sons and then she can live her life away from him as she wished. There will be no love, no partnership, only this compromise. Can a relationship that begins on such animosity have a future? And what will happen once Tara and Breccan falls in love?

We sense early on that Tara and Breccan are more than they appear. Tara, especially, is a complex creature who is at once vain, loving, caring, and inclined to honesty. She has always been aware of her beauty, and she knows how to wield it to her advantage, yet she chooses not to, for she wants to be seen for herself, not as a pretty face or figure. Her vulnerability regarding her inward redeeming qualities is central to her growth in the novel, from that of a self-absorbed lady to someone willing to carry the burden of giants for a loved one. It is a fantastic yet realistic transformation, a tribute to Cathy Maxwell’s fine characterization.

Breccan, similar to Tara, has been fighting the stigma associated with his large figure and unhandsome face. He sees himself as a troll unfit for beautiful Tara, yet he craves her regardless. His largeness only serves to contrast his gentleness, his dependence as a laird, his intelligence and care towards his people. He, too, realizes that Tara is more than he supposed, and he takes the time to understand her, truly forming a bond with the woman he bought.

The plot progresses smoothly for the first 2/3, in between charming anecdotes and hilarious conjugal mishaps. However, near the last 1/3, a villain suddenly appears to throw a wedge in Tara and Breccan’s relationship, causing a Big Misunderstanding that betrayed Breccan’s characterization, as he chose not to believe Tara after everything he’s learned of her. This provided unnecessary frustration to their relationship, and disrupted the hitherto flow of the story.

In addition, another weak point was the way in which the central conflict was resolved – Breccan needed to win money at a horse race (as he spent all on buying Tara) – as well as the abrupt ending. I felt slightly cheated that after all the characters have progressed in their relationship, there should have been a chapter more contrasting how their lives have changed post actualizing their love.

In spite of that, I truly loved the complex layering given to the characters; how both Breccan and Tara were self-aware of their faults and sought to change themselves was a testament of their dynamic growth, and a resulting of their growing love for each other. Cathy Maxwell write with a flair for comedic sensibility, bring to life two characters who are perfect for each other in a sweet tale of love and understanding, paying homage to “Beauty and the Beast.” I highly recommend this story and am highly anticipating The Groom Says Yes, the final book of this series!

*Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review


  1. Haven't heard of this series yet, and it doesn't sound like it's for me! I'm glad you enjoyed it though. Great review! :)

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

    1. It's a really great series and I highly recommend it. Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Kimi! :)

  2. Aloha, Mary! I appreciate how you articulate your thoughts in this review. I share your enthusiasm for Cathy's writing, especially her humor.

    Cathy wrote in the acknowledgement, "I am wealthy in my friends". I felt that set the tone for the book as Tara comes to understand the importance of a loving home over material things. Likewise, I saw Breccan also grow comfortable with himself through Tara.

    Of course, Breccan stole my heart as he read to Tara each night (as his mother did for him but her mother was not alive to do so). Finally, the dogs were the creme de la creme!

    The villain in the made an appearance in Maxwell's previous series, The Chattan Curse, Book 3, THE DEVIL'S HEART. I would love for Cathy to redeem him in a future book!

    1. Hi Kim! Thank you. :)

      I really felt that as well. Tara's growth in the story was my favorite part. Agree with you on both points.

      Loved the Selkie and trolls part! That was so sweet. ^_^ The humor is just so everyone thought they had some "wild" adventures when it was really the dogs....

      Oh yeah, that Campbell. I'm not quite sure whether this guy will ever be nice enough to be a protagonist for a romance, but I'm holding out hope he would at least not be evil in the future, if that's possible.



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