Noel Cades: The Substitute Bride

When Lily secretly takes her cousin’s place in an arranged marriage, little does she realise the desire, or the dangers, that await her.

The Marquess of Westford only offered to marry disgraced Elizabeth Cosgrove to save her family’s honour. He has no idea that an innocent girl has taken her place.

When the passion he arouses in Lily only confirms his belief that she’s a wanton, how can she ever convince him of her virtue?

This is Cades first foray into Regency Romance, coming off of several popular student teacher themed contemporaries.  For a freshman Regency, she does a good job conveying the sense of the era and has enough of the details to help a reader become immersed.

I love the marriage of convenience and masquerade tropes, and Cades plays with both here to good effect.  Lily takes the place of her cousin (both have the same name) in a marriage arranged to save the cousin from ruin.  It comes across fairly believably, based on the way Cades writes it, so doesn’t require a huge suspension of disbelief.

The Marquess is closer to 40 than 30 and, due to some past issues, has vowed never to marry.  He has begrudgingly agreed to the match to save his heir’s honor and in memory of the girl’s uncle, who saved his life.  He is more alpha than beta, and although he vows to treat his wife with respect finds himself quickly entranced by her quiet, elegant beauty and intelligence.

Lily has been living with her Aunt and Uncle and is soon to be sent away to live with an elderly relative in Scotland.  She is independent, educated and wise beyond her years.  She is also a striking beauty, which is one of the reasons her Aunt and Uncle kept her light under a bushel.

Its an entertaining read that can be easily breezed through in several reading sessions, and will be generally liked (if not loved) by newcomers to the genre (or historical romance in general).  The cadence of her writing will not overwhelm contemp-rom readers or scare them with too much vernacular, slang, or references that will sail above their heads.

The age gap and class gap may also be appealing to some readers, particularly those who like Cades’ student teacher romances.  I found it fairly similar to other Regencies, and although eventually wanted Lily to be a bit more honest with her hubby, nonetheless found them to be a sweet couple.

There were a couple problem elements in the book for me.  One is that Lily trends towards a Mary Sue (a sheltered, country raised girl really knows immediately a man is gay…and accepts it?) which isn’t a deal breaker for me, but is a little eye rolling.  Another is the predictable gothic-esque villain element.  I guessed pretty early on how this was going to play out (I won’t spoil it for you) and honestly could’ve done without it.

Finally, there are a couple of places where Lily slips in giving TMI to her servants (to two separate servants she talks about her deceased parents, when they have just met her “mother” and “father”) and no one raises an eyebrow.  I am not sure if that was just missed in editing, because it was never addressed, but I thought it was super confusing.

Overall, I think this is a great introduction to Regency or historical romance for readers more familiar with contemporary romance, as they will find the H/h engaging.  It was definitely entertaining, and filled with many elements and tropes of the genre that will be familiar to devoted Reg Readers.

 3.5 out of 6 Switching places steamy romance

Content Rating/Heat Index
Adultery, mistresses, violence and other assorted adult themes
Lots of vanilla steam, fairly quickly described so not too graphic
Villianry, carriage accidents, attempted assault and murder plots
Best for readers not afraid of a little steam and violence.

*A review copy was provided by the author. No other compensation was provided.



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