Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE BRAZEN BRIDE by Stephanie Laurens (Published by Avon Books, July 2010)

This is the third book in Stephanie Laurens' "The Black Cobra" series. The first two books, "The Untamed Bride," and "The Elusive Bride" were riveting, entertaining and full of "edge of your seat" suspense. I cannot say the same for this third installment of the series.

The storyline follows four ex-Crown officers on a hair-raising mission who are traveling from India to England each carrying proof in the form of a scroll that would name and condemn an English aristocrat who has been terrorizing India for years in his bid for wealth and power. Only one of the officers carries the original, seal embossed scroll, while the others are decoys carrying copies. Somewhere along their trip, our heroes acquires a lady companion, albeit reluctantly; hence the romance aspect.

The Cynsters and the infamous "Spymaster" from "The Bastion Club" series, along with is English spies, all make appearances here. I always love catching up with characters from other series to see how life has unfurled for them and it was fun re-visiting such unique and interesting characters as the Cynsters and "Daziel" aka "the Spymaster" and his rogues from the previous two series.

However, this third book, "The Brazen Bride," was a huge disappointment. Ms. Laurens is known to have a heavy hand with the sex scenes in most of her books, but this book proved too over the top for me. The very first liasion comes on page 20! Ah, can you at least set up the characters first and let us get to know them, please, before you have them jumping each other? I could have dealt with that but for the fact that this activity occurred constantly until page 172. It was only after this point that the original storyline from the two previous books continued and the promise of a suspense filled book complete with twists and turns, came to fruition.

Having read the teaser for "The Reckless Bride" at the end of this book introducing the fourth and final cliffhanger of "The Black Cobra Quartet," I do have hope that it will fulfill the promise that was fully realized in the first two books of this series. I can confidently recommend those first two books, "The Untamed Bride" and "The Elusive Bride" as gripping, hell bent for leather, holding onto your seats, thrilling reads. I cannot same the same, unfortunately, for this third book for the reasons stated above.