Saturday, January 30, 2010

Re-Read Challenge Review: Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard

Reece Duncan lost half his ranch and all his dreams to his ex-wife, so when it came time for a family he did the logical thing: he advertised for a bride. She had to be willing to work, to bear his children and to settle for lovemaking in place of love. It sounded perfect -- until Madelyn Patterson arrived.

One look and he had to have her. Never mind that she was New York and nightlife to his own plain-spoken Montana ways. She was willing to herd cattle, wax floors and bake biscuits by the dozen. She was even willing to bear his children -- but at a price he couldn't pay. She wanted love -- and he was a man who had no love to give.
Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard is one of my favorite category romances. It has almost all the ingredients that makes it a favorite read for me personally and I couldn't help but choose it as the first book to review for Nath's Re-Read Challenge. Why is this a favorite romance read for me? Well, Linda Howard seems to hit the nail on the head when it comes to the characters and the development of Maddy and Reece's relationship.

This couple doesn't know each other from Adam. Reece makes a calculated decision to marry based on his needs, but as a rancher he doesn't have the time or the inclination to court someone. He decides to advertise for a wife and is up-front and honest in what he needs -- a wife who will help him in his isolated Montana ranch and who is also willing to have a family. Reece doesn't promise love. He is too embittered by his past experiences with his ex-wife and doesn't want to give anything, except his body. Reece is nothing if not honest throughout the whole story and I appreciated that about him.

Maddy lives in New York City, works at her brother's successful company in a redundant position created just for her, and doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. She is financially solvent and answers Reece's ad out of curiosity and a need for change. Maddy doesn't really expect anything to come out of her impulsive actions until she meets Reece. Both Maddy and Reece are physically attracted to each other once they meet and click on a more personal level as well, but at that point only Maddy is willing to take it further. Reece doesn't think she's the right woman for him and tells her straight out. Despite Reece's initial misgivings, eventually they end up together and Howard develops the relationship through months of hardship and beautiful intimate moments at the ranch.

Reece is a drop-dead gorgeous alpha hero with a high sex drive. He is very sexy, but he's also very stubborn and used to having his way. He has his honesty going for him, but boy does he have a chip on his shoulder about the ranch, his ex-wife and everything he lost. Reece does everything possible not to make the same mistakes twice. He's one of those heroes who you want to kiss and shake at the same time a few times along the way, but that isn't necessary; Maddy is there to do it for us.

The description of Maddy in the book blurb above is deceptive if you're thinking Maddy is a doormat willing to do anything for Reece. On the contrary, she is one of the most likable heroines I've encountered. Maddy is deceptively smart, persistent in her love, relentless when it comes to not giving up on Reece, the ranch or their marriage and she never, ever backs down from Reece. She does what needs to be done and the best part of it all is that Maddy does it all her way. Maddy's character makes this story and this relationship work for me.

Howard uses both sexual tension and some intense passionate love scenes in Duncan's Bride to develop Maddy and Reece's romance -- I loved both. As a matter of fact, there's a scene that takes place on the back of Reece's pick-up truck that ranks high on my list of favorite explosive love scenes and it has nothing to do with it being graphic. (Pages 128 through 133)

Of course Reece carries so much baggage from his previous marriage, we know the conflict will come to a head at some point. When it does, there are begging scenes in this book where Howard hits the perfect tone. If you enjoy well balanced begging scenes you'll love these.

Was this book perfect? No, of course not. However for me personally, the small flaws I noticed did not take away from the immense enjoyment of re-reading Maddy and Reece's romance again. For me this is a Grade A read and one I highly recommend.

Duncan's Bride is a 1990 Silhouette Moments release by Linda Howard, and an Award of Excellence winner. My copy of the book has the above cover, 1st Silhouette Books printing September 1990 (thanks to a wonderful friend), but I found two other covers for this book. You can look for it at your local library, but in my opinion it's worth hunting through the used bookstores to find a copy.

Linda Howard doesn't have a website. Find a list of the author's books here.


  1. Duncan's Bride is one of my favorite books by LH. In fact, many of her older books are my favorites!

    While I love how alpha Reece is, it is Maddie who also makes the book a keeper for me. And the begging scenes? They are one of the reasons I love this book, lol!

  2. I think you recommend this one to me Hils. Maybe on the Phade? Anyway, I really enjoyed it too. I remember at first I thought it was a historical because of the mail-order-bride trope. Interesting that it wasn't. Nice review. :)

  3. Wow, story like this makes me weak. Seri ously! it softens my heart and makes me want to get the book right away. Add all the wonderful reviews of Hilcia and the book is sold! I'm going to see if my Library has this book. Thanks for the review.

  4. I adore Linda Howard. All her books are "keeper shelf" material in my house and I plan on digging through them for the Re-Read Challenge too.
    I re-read her "White Lies" for my January Re-read, I've read it about half a dozen times in a decade, but its still a great book.



    PS I think I will have to dig this one out to re-read. Great review.

  5. I love this book too. It's one of my top LH books - the Mackenzie books (particularly Mackenzie's Mountain) and Cry No More are my favourites :)

  6. Tabz, we share our love of LH then. :) Reece's alpha (ness) and Maddie's way of dealing with it in this book worked, worked! And yes, the begging scenes are THE best! :)

    Leslie, yes... I think there were looong discussions about this book on the Phade. *g* I love the way LH took the whole mail order bride trope and made it into a contemporary. Quite a nice twist on it.

    Natalie, thanks. I hope you enjoy this book if you find it. It's lovely. :)

    MsM, I love LH's books & I "White Lies" is also a favorite of mine. I read your review & now I'm going to have to dust it off too.

    Orannia, we share favorites! I love, love Mackenzie's Montain! And of course this one. Mr. Perfect and Son of the Morning and also favorites. :)

  7. Someone, I can't remember who, recommended this book to me a while back. Since I couldn't find it in store, I gave up on it. But now, I really want to read this I'll have to dig around online for it.

    Lovely review, Hils.

  8. Thanks Brie. I hope you find it, I think you'll really like this one. :)

  9. I've just checked my bookshelf and I don't have this book :( Now, the hunt is opened!!

    I've really enjoyed her older books and this sounds great :D Seriously, Ms Howard does a great job about H/H interaction in my opinion. Even in her newer books.

    Glad you joined the challenge, Hils!

  10. Great review! I really liked Maddy - she stood up to Reece and I like when she moved out. She really took a stand and wasn't a doormat like Sarah. LOL

  11. Nath! You're going on the hunt? I can't wait to read your adventures looking for this one, lol! I agree with you about LH.
    I'm really excited about this Challenge, Nath. I love re-reading, so this is perfect for me. :)

    Ames, thanks. LOL about Sarah! I have to read that one... Maddie's moving out was the best! Reece did some pretty begging. *g*


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