The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First things first... Thank you for recommending this book, Fani! Who would have thought I'd enjoy a historical PNR so much? Fani, that would be you! ;)
The Bride Finder is a romantic gothic tale, featuring a dark, tortured and brooding hero who lives in a haunted castle - where else could he live? - and a no-nonsense and engaging heroine.
Anatole St. Leger comes from a long line of ancestors who are cursed - or blessed, depending on how one sees it - with paranormal powers. Anatole's "gift" is, he's telekinetic, can see the future, and sense the presence of other people before he sees or hears them. Considering how "unique" they are, every member of the St. Leger family must ask the Bride Finder to choose his/her mate if they want to live a long and happy life. Anatole is well aware of the consequences of forsaking the Bride Finder's services - his parents' marriage was not a match made by the Bride Finder and, as the legend dictates, ended tragically - so he knows better than tempt fate. When the time comes for him to choose a bride, he calls the Bride Finder. He makes a list of what he wants in a wife, but we can't always get what we want... And what we want isn't always what we need...
What Anatole gets is Madeline Breton, who agrees to marry him sight unseen thanks to the Bride Finder's smart and somewhat tricky talking. When she arrives at Castle Leger to meet her husband, she's disappointed to find out that Anatole's nothing like she expected. He isn't thrilled with her either, so the Bride Finder has to smooth things out between the newlyweds. The Bride Finder strongly advises Anatole to come clean with Madeline about his paranormal powers, but Anatole decides to keep them a secret because he's afraid she'll get scared and reject him. And so begins their journey towards their HEA...
I loved both Anatole and Madeline, and I especially liked the fact that they didn't fall in love at first sight. That's very common in PNR romances, where the H/h are usually fated to be together and feel connected to each other right from the start, so it was nice to see a different approach. Anatole and Madeline were meant to be together - that was what the Bride Finder's job was about, to find the woman destined to be Anatole's love for all eternity - but that didn't mean that they fell instantly in love. It was wonderful to watch they find their way around each other and make their marriage work. And when he finally told her about his paranormal powers... All I'm going to say is, I'd have done the same thing she did.
The ending - most particularly, the last paragraph of the last chapter and the 1st line of the epilogue - almost gave me a heart attack. Wow, scary moment there! Thankfully, it was gone soon enough and I closed the book with a satisfying sigh. :)
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