Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa Kelly

Title: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom
Series: The Renegade Royals
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Zebra

They are the Renegade Royals, illegitimate sons of the Royal Princes, each finding his rightful place in society—and the woman destined to be his perfect match...

Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London's most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy—and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him...

Justine Brightmore may be a viscount's niece, but she's also a spy's daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction...

My rating:

Notorious Griffin Steele is in the process of selling all his properties and leaving England for good, when a baby, delivered to his house, delays those plans. He calls his quasi-mentor and friend, Dominic Hunter, for help in getting rid of the baby, but is dismayed to discover Dominic has every intention of leaving his little charge right where he is. Someone has delivered the baby to Griffin for protection, and so it shall be. But Griffin is not to worry, for Dominic will bring a competent nurse to help take care of the baby.

Enter Justine Brightmore, daughter of one of Dominic's spies, Dominic's own goddaughter. She had no intention of leaving her comfortable post in the country, but she did it for her godparent. How hard can it be, taking care of an infant? Not very hard, despite the baby's colicky behavior, but there's the master of the house to deal with, which is an altogether different matter. She doesn't know whether to club him over the head with a teapot or succumb to the attraction his smoldering looks provoke. But she's determined to do neither, and simply endure the few weeks she has to spend under the same roof as Griffin Steele.

But with her penchant for saving more-or-less lost souls, Justine ends up embroiled in a little bit of a scandal that will surely ruin her reputation...And Griffin, the gentleman that he is, offers a simple solution of becoming his wife. With Dominic all but forcing her into the stupid marriage of convenience to save her reputation, Justine has no choice but becoming Mrs Steele. But only in name only...If only her husband would stick to the plan.

Another great installment in the The Renegade Royals series, and the one I've been truly looking forward to, since it had the fascinating, brooding, angry-at-the-world, hot as sin, sexy as hell, crime-lord extraordinaire Griffin Steele as the hero.

And I wasn't disappointed. Griffin was everything I imagined and envisioned as soon as he made an appearance in the first book, and more. This was the man of contradictions; cold, dangerous, and ruthless, yet deeply loyal, loving (when the mood struck), and protective of those he considered his. He's been forged in the fires of hell, yet, despite his "best" intentions, he didn't let it define him (much). He could've become the same bastard as those that shaped him, but he didn't, choosing to rise above it all, making his own life and creating his own future and destiny.
It's tough finding the right heroine for such a charismatic character as Griffin Steele, but Ms Kelly succeeded in drawing the perfect heroine for him in Justine Brightmore. A bluestocking yes, a woman disliking adventure and any sort of disruption in the life she's carved for herself, but with a core and nerves of steel, a strong backbone, and intelligence to match. Justine and Griffin were eerily similar in some ways, both doggedly loyal and protective of those they cared about, both stubbornly guarding their independence, and both carrying deep scars from their childhoods.
Their love story, though sometimes playing second fiddle to the mystery subplot revolving around the baby and the danger lurking around it, was beautifully written and plotted-out, progressing slowly and steadily, as they slowly got to know each other, trust each other enough to reveal their deeper secrets (mostly Griffin), from initial attraction through admiration to that final elusive destination. I had my misgivings as to how their romance might end up, what with Griffin's plans and whatnot, but it all ended the way it was supposed to end. Nicely tied with a bow.

Everything else pretty much paled in comparison to Griffin and his love story with Justine, and I must say the mystery subplot with the baby in danger was starting to grate a little toward the end, and the mystery, once solved and explained, lacked that something special, that "oomph", if you will, that wow factor that makes you think it was worth the wait. The solution or the explanation was a tad too convoluted for my liking, and the exposition of it was the only dragging part of the otherwise well-paced story.

Now, I'm looking forward to the resolution between Chloe and Dominic. ;)


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