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The Ideal Bride [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephanie Laurens
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 10 2005 Cynster Novels (Book 12)

Aristocratic, elegant, and effortlessly charming, Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is a man destined for power. With his close connections to the influential Cynster family, Michael's future in Parliament appears assured, except that he lacks the single most important element of success: a wife.

Driven to seek a gently bred young lady, he discovers such a paragon. But there is an obstacle in his path: her beautiful, strong-minded young aunt, Caroline Sutcliffe.

A woman of style and status, Caro will not sacrifice her cherished niece to an unhappy marriage. However, Michael suddenly has his eye on Caro herself. But danger is stalking Caroline Sutcliffe. It will take great courage to protect her -- and every ounce of Michael's seductive charm to convince her that becoming his bride will bring her all her heart desires ... and more.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Laurens's newest romantic offering, set in early 19th-century London, possesses two of her trademarks—coolly confident characters and plentiful and graphic sex scenes—but it lacks the fire and feisty humor of her earlier works (All About Passion, etc.). Once readers encounter Laurens's protagonists, it's clear why. A self-possessed young widow, Caro Sutcliffe, whose late husband was an ambassador, and a calculating political player, Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, are adept at diplomacy; they know who to align themselves with, how to manage the people around them and what to say in every situation. Unlike the protagonists in Laurens's previous novels, Caro and Michael hardly ever lose control of their emotions, which makes them seem more like marionettes than people. When Michael sets his sights on marrying Caro's 19-year-old niece, Elizabeth, who's actually in love with somebody else, Caro intervenes not by confronting him but by attending a number of social gatherings and instructing Elizabeth to behave in ways unbefitting a politician's wife. Caro's plan works, but she soon finds that she's become the object of Michael's pursuit. Laurens stuffs the story with sex scenes, but her second-by-second analyses of every kiss and caress brings new meaning to the word tedious. Her overblown metaphors also detract from the sensuality of these scenes ("she was dimly aware when he reached his own limit and release caught him, racked him, then the storm rolled on and he lay beside her on that golden shore"). A well-executed mystery subplot involving attempts on Caro's life lends some zest to this offering, but not enough to satisfy fans of Laurens's popular Cynster novels.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'marvellous...' Cathy Kelly" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Jan. 20 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
As with all of the Cynster Novels in this series, this book is Amazing and keeps you reading from the first page to the last
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not her best effort - but still good! April 30 2004
Setting - Eyeworth Manor, near Fritham in New Forest, Hampshire, 1825 --- For fans of Laurens earlier Cynster novels this one features Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, who at 33 is a rising member of Parliament -- a man who clearly has a very promising future, quite possibly destined for greatness but insiders confided to him that advancement would be conditional upon him acquiring a wife. Handsome, well-born and naturally charming he is matchmaking mama's dream, especially with his connections to the wealthy and influential Cynster family -- his sister is married to Devil Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives (DEVIL'S BRIDE).
Knowing that he needs a perfect wife, who would be politically astute, Michael has looks over his acquaintances and decides that 19 year old, Elizabeth Mollston would make a perfectly acceptable wife and helpmate as she came from a politically involved family herself. The only problem is that Elizabeth is in love with another and has enlisted the help of her Aunt Caro Sutcliffe, to help her in discouraging him from declaring himself. It doesn't take long before Michael discovers what that Caro has been 'managing' him and that it is Caro, the very accomplished foreign ministers widow, who would be the perfect helpmate. Only Caro, whose previous marriage to a much older man, is adamant to remain 'The Merry Widow' and NEVER intends to marry again. Michael has to use all of his abundant diplomatic charm to convince her to become his wife. At the same time, in a secondary sub-plot, and after numerous 'accidents', he must discover who is trying to kill her.
While this latest entry has abundant and graphic sexual encounters, it seemed to me that Laurens came up a bit short in the fire and feisty humor department.
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2.0 out of 5 stars long and drawn out May 7 2004
By A Customer
As a Laurens fan I couldn't wait for this book! Well, I should have kept on waiting. Sorry to say, it took my days upon days to get throught this book. The first hundred pages or so seemed to be slow dry reading. The characters aren't that well developed and are lacking her usual flare. The plot could have amounted to a more exciting story if we didn't have to keep reading about the lack of [physical relations] in Caro's first marriage.
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2.0 out of 5 stars YAWN-fest April 29 2004
By A Customer
Tedious and tired. Lots of filler. Neither of the main characters are memorable, much less likeable. Reading this book was like being tortured with boredom. I've never been fond of Stephanie Laurens's writing style -- she draws out every little thing in a very talky way; she uses 20 words when three would do. But her earlier books were more spare and readable. Now each successive book is more and more labored. Plot lines seem re-treaded from earlier Cynster stories. Must every single person in this family be subject to murder plots and blackmail?
This one is the worst -- the diplomatic/political angle had her explaining every nuance of every word and gesture the characters used. Where was the editor on this book? Deleting a good 40% chunk of text would have done this book some good. Read in current state only if you need a nap.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing entry in the series... April 5 2004
I enjoyed most of the previous books in Lauren's Cynster series but was disappointed with The Ideal Bride. The plot is far too predictable; you will know exactly what is going to happen 50 or so pages before it does. There's lots of steamy sex but the descriptions are over-blown and quickly become repetitive. The author churned out three or four books over the past year; perhaps The Ideal Bride is the result of quantity over quality.
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1.0 out of 5 stars wooden April 2 2004
The Cynster series (very loosely linked!) has gone on for far too long, and the author is really repeating herself here. People in love with others, trying to escape an eforced marriage, the aunt becoming hte love interest instead of the sprightly young niece, and (...)[some] scenes crammed in to substitute for story, or even the characters having to speak to one another in meaningful way, it has all been done to death in Laurens' previous books. I want living breathing characters who care and are committed to each other, not just out to scratch an itch or serve their own selfish purposes by marrying because it is good for their career. The PW review hit the nail on the head-these people are so tightly controlled that we don't even care when they do the wild thing, and the wild thing scenes are completely tedious because so passionless. It reads like more of a Master and Johnson's manual at times. DULL!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Super-sexy historical thriller March 26 2004
Michael Anstruther-Wetherby has a challenge. There's an opportunity to move into the British cabinet, but only if he can do so as a married man--married to the right kind of woman. Because in 1825 England, women control society and can make or break a man's career. Michael identifies a candidate, Elizabeth, the daughter of a neighbor, and moves in. But his plans don't take into account the schemes of Elizabeth's aunt Caro. Elizabeth has fallen in love with another man and begs Caro to help her fend Michael off. Caro is willing and her plan works--sort of. Because Michael is soon convinced that Elizabeth isn't his perfect bride after all--Caro is.
Caro has never really recovered from her marriage to an aging diplomat. Although she was successful as a society hostess and made her late husband even more powerful, she has always known that he married her only for her political insights and not out of love. As a widow, Caro has a certain power--power she's sworn never to give up by marrying another. Michael may be sexy and strong, she might even consider an affair with him, but marriage--never. Of course, Michael isn't going to give up on his goals. But he'll take whatever path comes open and an affair sounds like the perfect first step. Things really get complicated, though, when Michael discovers that someone is trying to kill Caro.
Author Stephanie Laurens writes a steamy-sexy story. Caro is an interesting damaged character--filled with strength but still wounded from her former marriage. Michael is a fine alpha hero, fiercely protective of his woman and forceful in his lovemaking. Fans of Laurens' books will find a lot to like here, including appearances from some of the Cynster men who were heros in earlier novels.
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