Secrets of a Runaway Bride
by Valerie Bowman
(St. Martin’s Press, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-250-00896-1
This one’s for every girl who has ever chased a guy to no avail, Secrets of a Runaway Bride tackles this unflattering feminine habit head on and no holds barred.

Annie Andrews is trying desperately to reinvent herself while her beautiful and accomplished older sister Lily is away on her honeymoon. Left with only her drunkard Aunt Clarissa for a chaperone, Annie decides to try to take fate into her own hands. While she has tried lately to turn her life the way she wants it, by asking her family to refer to her as Anne instead of Annie with few results and with a disastrous failed attempt to run away with her beloved Arthur Eggleston to Gretna Green last spring, Annie refuses to admit defeat.

Annie cleverly gets away from Aunt Clarissa’s lax supervision to tempt Arthur into another provocative situation only to be discovered by the arrogant, infuriating and well placed Earl of Ashbourne, Jordan Holloway. Jordan’s just fulfilling his promise to his best friend Devon to keep an eye on his new young sister in law while he and Lily honeymoon. Jordan agreed, having no idea that nineteen year old Annie Andrews would be such a handful. He’s already been following her around the ton’s social events and seen her throw herself unashamedly at the Eggleston chap, with no regard to her own pride or reputation.

When Jordan sees that Annie is determined to repeat her disastrous Gretna Green run once again, he takes matters, and Annie, into his own hands, and takes her, as well as the cup-shot and highly inappropriate Aunt Clarissa for a country visit at his family estate. Jordan’s stunned when Annie shows her true colors, her effortless charm and gentle manners that enchant everyone in the household, including himself, which is a very dangerous turn of events for his hardened heart, indeed.

Secrets of a Runaway Bride is a charming coming of age tale edged with scalding embarrassment and Annie is the perfect heroine for it.

Annie’s the exact 19 that I believe a lot of women are, headstrong, willful, blinded by ambition and just naïve enough to believe that they’re ten feet tall and bulletproof. She’s always wanted to be married with kids and love, so she’s decided that Arthur’s her man, and he will easily bend to her will and she’ll have her way. While her plan doesn’t seem to be working, she’s undeterred and spunky enough to continue with her schemes, always with a resilient back up plan.

It isn’t until Jordan talks sense to her that she starts to realize that her joyful cajoling and coaxing of those around her comes off as a completely different from the other side. Annie’s sick to realize how others see her adventures as ridiculous mischief, and she starts to see how they may be right.

Jordan’s rakehell past hasn’t prepared him at all for dealing with Annie Andrew’s brand of sass. He’s first dismayed and then intrigued by her and is blatantly interested in her. Jordan’s open to the reader about his emotions and thoughts, a rarity in the genre in my opinion, and he’s all the sexier for it. Jordan’s tough outer shell really begins to crack towards others in the second half of the story and it’s beautiful to see.

The tale overall is incredibly charming, the writing dramatic and the characters bold. My only issue that holds this back from being a 5 heart read is the lack of build up between the main couple, they seemed to be constantly sidestepping one another until bam something happens. Where’s the witty repartee? Where’s the torturous tension? Other than those missing ingredients that make the middle of the story quite flat, you won’t be disappointed by Secrets of a Runaway Bride.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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