Review of THE BARTERED BRIDE by Mary Jo Putney (see her website)
Ballantine Publishing, May 2002
When returning to England from Australia, Alexandra Warren's ship is attacked by pirates and she is separated from her daughter and sold into slavery. Her constant rebellions lead to her being resold where she is sighted by handsome American merchant Gavin Elliott. Elliott can't stand by when a 'woman of his own people' is enslaved and agrees to undertake a deadly challenge to save her. But saving Alexandra from captivity isn't enough. Her soul has been damaged by the violence and rape used against her. Elliott must learn patience if he is to enjoy the love as well as the companionship of this beautiful woman.
Once back in England, Alexandra and Elliott are thrust into 1830s English society and Elliott learns that he has inherited a high position in the aristocracy. Both wish to use their power for good, but the forces of slavery and repression are strong even in England and conspire to strike back at the two.
Author Mary Jo Putney (see all BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) writes a compelling and emotionally powerful novel filled with action and adventure. THE BARTERED BRIDE is strongest when set in Indonesia and during the sea voyage when Elliott and Alexandra learn to come to terms with one another. Putney handles the emotional damage done by Alexandra's captivity and brutalization perfectly, making her extremely sympathetic while making her difficulties in establishing a sexual relationship with Elliott believable.
The English component of THE BARTERED BRIDE is still fine adventure. Still, the motivations for Alexandra's kidnappers to hold her alive seems stretched. For me, this reduced the emotional impact of the adventurous ending.
Minor quibbles aside, THE BARTERED BRIDE is an exciting and emotionally compelling story--and a fine addition to the Putney series of east/west romances.
Purchase THE BARTERED BRIDE from Amazon.com. (Available in hardback.)
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