The Bridal Veil

The Bridal Veil - Alexis Harrington Alexis Harrington has a knack of writing about tortured souls, making them sympathetic and not pathetic. Her heroes and heroines are emotionally scarred but they don’t whine or give up.

In The Bridal Veil our heroine, a tall and plain looking woman, is the lone survivor of her little family. Her beloved younger sister, a dainty beauty, is killed in a carriage accident and around the same time our heroine loses her job as an etiquette teacher because the school closes due to money issues. Emma, our heroine, always was the sensible one and never expected to have a husband and children. Secretly, of course, she always had the same dreams as every other young girl which is why continues to keep her grandma's wedding dress and bridal veil. It appears, the veil, symbolizes love, family and happiness to her. After her sister dies, she makes likely her first spontaneous and flighty decision; her sister was set to leave for Oregon as a mail-order-bride to a young widower. Emma goes in her stead.

Luke, our hero, had been a wild boy in his youth and “upstanding” families warned their daughters away from him and his brothers. They were outcasts of society and the brunt of stinging pranks, criticism and ridicule. Luke is taken in by a family and taught to run the farm and when the house burns down, the family decides to leave and return to their homeland, selling the land to Luke for a price he can afford. By what seemed to him like sheer luck, he gains the hand of the girl he had always admired and loved. Her family had always pushed her towards a young lawyer visiting from the city. But all did not turn out well, as the girl had a mother, a crude and nasty woman, who arranged their part of the world to her liking and she would have preferred the young lawyer as a son-in-law. She spreads malcontent and after one of her visits, the young couple again fights, more fiercely than usual and the young woman takes their daughter and leaves to go back to her mother. She is caught in a rainstorm and develops pneumonia and dies.

Her mother moves in with Luke and his daughter. She bosses everyone around and continues to manipulate everyone around her. Luke does not really want to re-marry but believes he has to find someone better suited than his mother-in-law to raise his daughter.

He is not thrilled when Emma arrives instead of her sister and is ready to send her home. After talking it over, they decide to have a marriage of convenience. Luke had never told Emma’s sister that his late wife’s mother lives with him and he does not tell Emma up front either. There are immediate clashes and home life becomes hell. However, Emma is able to connect with Rose, Luke’s daughter, and that does not really sit well with grandma. As Luke begins to see that Emma is not as plain as he originally thought and sees how well and dignified she deals with his former mother-in-law, he finally steps in and tells her to leave his house. For a little while, life is happy. One night, Luke lets Emma in on a secret which only he and his mother-in-law know about. And the reader, if not Luke, immediately, knows watch out, grandma is going to use this.

And she does. Of course, she twists it so that Luke believes Emma spread the news (especially as she had disagreed with his handle of said secret) and he rails at her, basically telling her he wants nothing to do with her anymore. Emma packs her bags and is ready to leave, when she sets out to do one final chore. That chore places her and Rose in jeopardy. By the time Luke realizes that his wife is missing,he is frantic. He has calmed on the spilled secret and now is fairly convinced that his ex-mother-in-law had lied. He goes off to find his wife and daughter.

Now I could have done with a bit more groveling. Luke had been frightened and Emma realizes that but he did say some very nasty things and given that he had had an even longer exposure to the mother-in-law, his justification was somewhat shaky. This and my biggest pet peeve of romance novels, not having the villain punished or in case of regencies, punished by banishing him/her to the “Continent” or the country estate is simply not good enough for me. I am not sure what one could have done to the nasty older woman but hearing only that Rose wanted nothing to do with her for the time being, was not enough. Otherwise, I would have given it 5 Stars.

Yes, there were some spelling mistakes and some grammar mistakes but they were few and the story was strong enough for me to notice them only in a vague manner.