When the Earl of Salt Hendon marries squire's daughter Jane Despard, Society is aghast. But Jane and Lord Salt share a secret past of mistrust, heartache and misery. Four years on, they are forced into a marriage neither wants; the Earl to honor a dying man's wish; Jane to save her stepbrother from financial ruin. Beautiful inside and out, the patient and ever optimistic Jane believes love conquers all; the Earl will take some convincing. Enter Diana St. John, who has been living in a fool's paradise believing she would be the next Countess of Salt Hendon. She will go to extreme lengths, even murder, to hold the Earl's attention. Can the newlyweds overcome past prejudices and sinister opposition to fall in love all over again?
After becoming pregnant at eighteen, Jane Despard is cast out of her father’s house. Refusing to let a bastard child soil the family name, Sir Felix Despard sends Jane to live with merchant Jacob Allenby to endure a life of repentance. But who is the baby’s father?
After living in a virtual prison for four years, Jane is free when Jacob Allenby dies. Yet, in order to save her brother from financial destitution, Jane must marry. Honoring Sir Felix’s dying wish, the Earl of Salt offers for Jane. Now the two former lovers must come face to face with their past and the walls of mistrust.
Overcoming their past is not the newlyweds’ only obstacle. In Caroline Bingley fashion, Diane St. John has always dreamed of becoming the next Countess of Salt. An unstable Diane will go to any extreme, gossip, manipulation, deception, and even poison to stop the Earl from siring an heir who will take away the earldom from her son and current heir to Salt.
The array of emotions Brant’s characters felt made them real. The pain, resentment, anger, and even joy they felt were natural responses under the circumstances. Towards the beginning of the book, Salt’s righteous anger and resentment had me unsure whether I would like him; he was so harsh and mean. Yet, true to the Georgian hero role, Salt changes thanks to Jane.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jane and Salt’s relationship. Watching the two work through their past secrets and heartache was engrossing and entertaining. Jane’s frank questions and cheeky responses had me smiling and at the same time, each slowly chiseled away the walls Salt built.
Not only were the characters’ emotions traveling the spectrum, but so were mine. It was the emotions I felt mixed with just the right amount of angst that kept the plot going and had me turning page after page, reading the book in two sittings.
While Brant’s historical facts, characterization and pacing are well developed and delivered, at times the wording and sentence structures confused to me and I needed to reread certain passages to understand them. Even though I found that Diane St. John fit the evil villain role well, towards the end of the book I was tiring of her antics and wanted a resolution. Even though these areas were unclear or tiresome, they did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book.
With bold characters, the evilest of villains, and a spectrum of emotions, I found Lucinda Brant’s Salt Bride to be an enthralling book I did not want to put down.