Continuing on my historical fiction binge of sorts, I recently picked up The Wedding Vow by Jillian Hart. Before you chide me on reading a book with a cover fit for the trashy romance novel section, I must admit that Hart’s work has left me impressed by the depth of the plot and character development. With that said, there were also a few other instances of lackluster writing quality that balanced out the shining points, leaving me with a mixed overall view of the book. However, I’ll leave it up to you to make a final decision on what you think of this book!
Gwyneth of Blackthorne was living a good life. She had land, a title of nobility, and a loving family. However, all this was shattered when her parents were brutally killed by a man who eventually took their titles and land. Not only did he kill Gwyneth’s parents, but all of the guards and her brother, who were entrusted to protect the family at all costs, were killed by this man and his followers. By sheer luck, Gwyneth was able to escape, forced to live with her cruel uncle, who works her night and day as a servant. Her daily routine of misery is interrupted one day by Bran the Fair, who seeks her help. Known as the greatest healer in the land, Gwyneth is enlisted to help the very man who killed her family. She finds that the man, who is now a Barron, has been thrown from his horse and is in serious condition. Not only this, but Bran is his bastard son. The Barron, knowing he is near death, apologizes to Gwyneth and tells her that in order to repay her, she must marry his son and once again preside over her land which was brutally taken from her. Although she dislikes the arrangement greatly, the King grants the Barron’s dying wish and Gwyneth marries Bran. However, this is not Gwyneth’s first encounter with the Barron’s family, as she was previously married to Geoffrey, Bran’s half brother. A savage man who attempted to beat her, Gwyn was freed from this marriage soon after it began. Will Bran be as horrible as his father? Will Gwyneth ever find peace again?
I won’t lie. This novel needs a lot of editing/grammatical work. There were times that characters would be in the kitchen and then three sentences later they were somewhere completely different with no transition. It gave me an oddly paced feeling, and I feel that with the markings of a red pen this could easily be rectified. Also, adding to the underlying grammar issues, I took issue with parts of Gwyneth’s character. For someone who had lived her whole life hating “men” and thinking there was no good left in any of them, Gwyneth sure melted fast as soon as Bran was doing things for her (i.e. drawing her a hot bath, finding her a kitten). Sure, she kept her guard up, but I felt like these actions portrayed her as a weak female that easily acquiesced to others wants and needs. She was this strong female character that you could give props to, then boom – a man makes her weak in the knees and she’s his. When Gwyn and Bran have sex for the first time a dramatic shift in the plot came about. Suddenly everything revolved around making bonds with their bodies and about Gwyn and Bran’s need to possess each other, rather than about fighting Geoffrey and making The Keep (their land) stable again. It made me sad that there was such a shift, because the storyline pre-sex was actually really interesting.
Putting aside the negative things mentioned above the storyline was compelling with complex characters scattered here and there. The conflicts between Geoffrey and Bran as well as Gwyn and Bran were gripping plot points all on their own. Add into that the relationship that Bran tries to begin with the townsfolk and with Gwyn and you have the makings of a dynamic plot. With all that being said The Wedding Vow is a good read for those you looking to explore a historical fiction work with a bit of a romantic flair.
3 out of 5 Stars