Miss Bates is always suspect that Maisey Yates can be as prolific as she is and still retain her novels’ high standards. Yates pulls it off with an ensured hand for the most part. Though Miss Bates prefers Yates’s more realistic contemporary romance, she also can’t resist an HP by an author she consistently enjoys. And so … Yates’s Spaniard’s Pregnant Bride, wherein Yates really rocks a lovely reversal of the princess in the tower narrative, with a towered and towering prince, oops duke … the prince is the heroine’s rejected fiancé. Allegra Valenti, at 22, is set to marry Prince Raphael DeSantis of Santa Firenze thanks to the match-making efforts of her brother’s best friend, Cristian Acosta. Cristian, despite his name, is an arrogant donkey-butt of a hero, purporting to know what’s best for the heroine, even choosing her husband. But, like any good HP, the hero’s high-and-mighty will be hoisted on his own petard. Allegra is smart and possesses what Miss Bates most admires in a heroine, integrity and spunk.
One night, at a Venetian masked ball, Allegra meets a black-clad man. They have, what is to Miss Bates, distasteful, anonymous sex. However, in true HP fashion, how they’re drawn to each other and the meaning their encounter takes is anything but anonymous. Romance is always about the antithesis to anonymity: recognition. Despite the masks and costumes, Allegra and Cristian recognize something profound and meaningful in each other. But socialization doesn’t allow either hero or heroine to trust their deepest, instinctual selves. They complicate the elemental with what they’ve learned of relationships and relating to the other.
Allegra has too much integrity to allow Raphael to go through with the marriage once she realizes she’s pregnant. It isn’t long before Cristian arrives to claim bride and baby. For Cristian, whose upbringing and widowerhood have convinced him he’s a cold man, re-enters Allegra’s life on the basis of honour and proprietorial claims. This coldness hides a wounded man. Allegra is loving and honest, but too young to initially recognize her emotional strength, to Cristian’s woundedness. Nevertheless, she fights him with care and honesty until he crumbles. Cristian’s psychic hurt is real and painful. Yates, however, chooses to portray it in fairy-tale metaphors: ruined towers, a prince in stasis, and an agon exposing his deepest self to the person who matters most.
Yates’s The Spaniard’s Pregnant Bride is intense and, at times, pitches too high and strained a narrative note. But is is also dreamily fairy-tale-like, drawing on wasteland images to bring the hero, with the heroine’s bravery and love, back to life. With Miss Austen, Miss Bates says Yates’s Spaniard and his bride offer “real comfort,” Emma
Maisey Yates’s The Spaniard’s Pregnant Bride is published by Harlequin Books. It was released in September 2016 and is available at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from Harlequin, via Netgalley.