Review: The Major's Faux Fiancee by Erica Ridley

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Title: The Major's Faux Fiance
Author: Erica Ridley
Genre: Romance
Series: The Dukes of War #4
Pages: 250
Published: June 1, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 3 out of 5

When Major Bartholomew Blackpool learns the girl-next-door from his childhood will be forced into an unwanted marriage, he returns home to play her pretend beau. He figures now that he's missing a leg, a faux fiancée is the best an ex-soldier can get. He admires her pluck, but the lady deserves a whole man—and he'll ensure she gets one.

Miss Daphne Vaughan hates that crying off will destroy Major Blackpool's chances of finding a real bride. She plots to make him jilt her first. Who cares if it ruins her? She never wanted a husband anyway. But the major is equally determined that she break the engagement. With both of them on their worst behavior, neither expects their fake betrothal to lead to love...

I think it's time for The Dukes of War and I to part ways. It's not just the lack of comedy or the difficult protagonists; I don't think there's anything left to explore in this world. (The preview of book five made that pretty clear.)

Bartholomew and Daphne are childhood friends who agree to a fake engagement to secure Daphne's inheritance. The plot is flimsy; Daphne's "evil" guardian is a pirate and minor character from the second book who Ridley is obviously planning to star in a future title. He's gruff and demanding and tells the couple that they'll marry by the end of the week, no stalling! So obviously, the Captain isn't mentioned again in their more than a month of stalling. The real conflict comes from Bart and Daph themselves, trying to out martyr each other.

Batholomew and his twin were notorious rakes before the war. Beloved by men as a boxing legend and woman as a legendary lover, Bartholomew became infatuated with the idea of fighting for his country. Edward followed him, but never came home. Worse, Batholomew lost a leg trying to save his brother. Traumatized and depressed, he vows to never return to society where people can pity and emasculate him. I had less issue with his plot than Daph's, until it came time for him to see his friends. The scene at the wedding and the fact that he never took up for Edward's pregnant fiance rubbed me the wrong way. He was so lost in his own grief, he couldn't even come together with the person who would understand it best. Understandable at first, but less so three-quarters of the way through the story.

Daphne always came second to her vicar father's flock. Desperate to be loved by him, she threw herself into charitable causes. She vows to never marry, as love and a husband would take her away from the people she champions. There's nobility in that, but Daphne is actually extremely selfish. She looks down on everyone around her for not helping "enough" or in her way. She doesn't want help, because she doesn't want to share. Even her best friend, who she knows takes up for rich and poor alike, is the subject of some really scornful, (and undeserved,) thoughts.

The romance is fine, though I didn't see as much chemistry between the main characters as I'd like. They're too self involved for anyone else. I did appreciate the big, romantic gesture and how fighting for Daphne taught Bartholomew some acceptance. What I didn't feel was how his family flipped on a dime afterwards. The love scenes were sexy and didn't feel repetitive, but there are only two.

In all, fans of the series may be disappointed, as The Major's Faux Fiancee is something of a departure and new fans won't find much substance.

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