From the moment I picked up ‘The Bride’s Bodyguard’ by Elizabeth Thornton in 1998, I knew this is going to be one author I will gladly follow.
Over the years that I’ve read her books, I’ve found that she always delivers exciting plots, surprising twists and unlikely villains – a combination that goes a long way in creating the kind of romantic suspense novels that keep her readers hooked on her.
In ‘The Marriage Trap’, she scored yet again with her masterful characterisation, a wickedly brilliant plot and the right dose of suspense.
Just to give you an idea of the fertile ground for imagination she has set, here is a brief synopsis:
Past experiences with women has made Jack Rigg, the newly minted Earl of Raleigh, a cynic when it comes to love and marriage. With his recent inheritance, he is hounded by ambitious marriage-minded mothers and their scheming daughters. He has managed to evade getting trapped in wedlock, but when Miss Elinor Hill, a dowdy lady’s companion he met at a reception at the British embassy, dared to cast aspersions on his honour with claims that she spent the night with him in his rooms at the Palais Royal, he was furious at the suggestion of a wedding to save her reputation.
When Ellie last saw Jack, she was masquerading as the ravishingly mysterious Madame Aurora, whom Jack rescued from a tavern brawl. After sharing a passionate embrace with him, she’d left just as mysteriously, hoping to keep the night’s adventure buried in memory. But now, in desperate need to clear her name of a suspected theft, she has no choice but to name Jack as her alibi.
Determined not to compromise Jack, Ellie declined his forced proposal and left for London disgraced but unrepentant. Intrigued and entrusted with solving a murder mystery that involves Ellie’s brother and potentially her, Jack followed Ellie back to his homeland where he embarked on a quest not only to win this reluctant lady’s heart, but to save her life, and her brother’s, as well.
As I followed both Ellie’s and Jack’s trail to uncover the identity of the villain who wishes to end their union before it has even begun, I was kept guessing until nearly the very end. You sort of only realise, together with Ellie, who the murderer is, when she got cornered by him. The title may sound like a Regency romance, but the plot twists and pacing can only belong in a suspense thriller. This is one of the reasons why I would safely buy her books on her reputation alone.
Other Thornton gems that I’ve read and enjoyed over the years, and would recommend, include:
Almost a Princess
The Perfect Princess
Strangers at Dawn
Whisper His Name
You Only Love Twice
Dangerous to Hold
Dangerous to Kiss
The Bride’s Bodyguard and Strangers at Dawn remain to this day my favourites amongst her works, although one of the characters, Richard Maitland, the Chief of the Secret Service, featured in several of the novels, is my favourite hero. He gets his own story in The Perfect Princess which is my next favourite work after the two above.
I’m also very inspired by what she said about the career turn (she was a pastoral assistant on the verge of retirement when she discovered a second career in popular fiction writing):
As I plot the turning points in my life and journey of faith, I see that I’ve been taken by surprise by many twists in the road that have led me to new horizons.
“Now, there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.”
[ I Corinthians 12: 3 – 6. R.S.V.]
May you be similarly inspired by her works!