Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa Kelly

September 6, 2014 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa KellyConfessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa Kelly
Series: Renegade Royal #2
Published by Zebra Books on April 1, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
They are the Renegade Royals, illegitimate sons of the Royal Princes, each finding his rightful place in society--and the woman destined to be his perfect match. . .

Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London's most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy--and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him. . .

Justine Brightmore may be a viscount's niece, but she's also a spy's daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction. . .

A mysterious infant left on the steps of his brothel forces Griffin Steele, bastard nephew of the Prince Regent, to halt his plans to leave England and turn to his mentor and former guardian, Dominic Hunter, for help to figure out exactly who this child and why his life is in danger.  Dominic, spy and puppet-master extraordinaire, enlists the help of his goddaughter, Justine Brightmore, to safeguard the infant.  When Justine is discovered in the brothel, a quick marriage of convenience silences any wagging tongues.  But now Griffin has yet another tie to the English Isle and Justine has a husband who is everything she didn’t want.  As Griffin and Justine work together to keep the baby safe from the men searching for him, they grow much closer and begin to realize that perhaps their sham marriage shouldn’t be so sham after all.

Justine is a woman used to taking care of herself.  Her father was a spy for the British Crown, always craving the next adventure until he was sadly lost on an assignment.  As a result, Justine grew up very independent and longs for a quiet life in the countryside married to a quiet, unadventurous husband – or better yet, no husband at all!  She’s quite content playing the Lady’s companion.  Her motherly instinct to care for others is useful when she is thrust into Griffin Steele’s household and throughout all the ensuing turmoil, Justine remains calm and levelheaded.  She’s a realist with an aptitude for picking up on others’ nonverbal cues and an eye for detail.

Griffin Steele is everything Justine doesn’t want for her life.  He runs a gaming hall and a brothel, has ties to the British spy network, and have definitive plans to leave England for far away places such as Italy, Egypt, and the Asian continent.  He is anything but “a quiet life at home.”  His past and rough upbringing makes him gruff and defensive.  He values his independence – something he did not have growing up – and is near-violently evasive when it comes to discussion of his family or heritage.

This was certainly a complex novel, which I think was handled quite well, but was rushed at the end and wrapped up far too quickly.  The mystery surrounding the infant was intriguing and was the catalyst for bringing Justine and Griffin together, but the ultimate climax and reveal came in the last 20 pages.  Given the intricacy of the plot and all the character development earlier in the novel, I would have liked to see this major plot thread paced a little better.

Overall, a good read if you enjoy gruff, brooding heroes and introverted, independent heroines with a dash of mystery.

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