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A French pirate of smoldering passions, Justin St. Briac will never marry. However, when his manipulative mother beckons him to her deathbed in Cornwall, he succumbs to her plea that he take a bride.
Mouette Raveneau, once the toast of the London ton, has been ruined by her dead husband's crimes. With two adolescent sons and no means of support, she reluctantly takes refuge in Cornwall.
A Pretend Marriage....
To grant his mother's dying wish, Justin devises an elaborate charade. Her days are numbered, after all, and soon he'll return to his life of unfettered romantic conquests and adventure in France.
But what if his mother isn't really dying? And what if he begins to enjoy the very thing he's avoided his whole life?
This gracefully and eloquently written Regency read/listen, with a humorous plot kept me entertained as it reunites a dysfunctional family. Justin St. Briac has a complex about his mother, whom he sees as one who made his childhood miserable with her games of leaving the family, making his father run after her to bring her home. Marriage is not for him, even though his brother has a happy marriage. He’s more suited to one-night stands and unattachment. At 48 he is a man the women look at when he enters a room.
He’s called back home, not having been there for many years. His mother is dying. He doesn’t know if he should trust her. Is she acting as she had been so many times in his youth? He feels a bit of compassion for her and tries to do the right thing when her dying wish is for Justin to find a wife.
Rather than argue the point, Justin cooks up a scheme – pulls Mouette Raveneau into the scheme by promising her lots of money she can’t refuse. Her financial circumstances are left in tatters from her previous marriage and now at 36 she must look out for herself and two sons.
She accepts this whole charade with the caveat he will not consummate the marriage and use physical touching only to convince his parents they are truly married. But quite a few people know it is all a farce.
In the process of furnishing his rented home (which Mouette is very good at), they spend lots of time together…with interesting results.
It’s always a pleasure to add children and animals to the mix of a good story. Children speak their minds and express that which many adults feel inappropriate. I enjoyed both boys’ growing relationship with Justin and the surprising reaction Justin has to them. The dog, Robinson, found on the road, becomes very much part of the family.
The rental becomes a home. The make-believe world created by this scheme is starting to feel for real. Justin decides it isn’t so bad – being a pirate does have its excitement, but holding Mouette in his arms has a bigger draw. How can he turn a make-believe marriage into a real one?
Tim Campbell narrates most of Cynthia Wright’s work. I’ve come to enjoy his French-accented English, his voice impersonations of the male characters with varying personalities. His deep voice and the way he uses it pull out every nuance of Wright’s work. Campbell excels in dog barking! Robinson has dialog, too. Enjoy!
This stories of the Raveneaus and the Beauvisage, sometimes humorous, sometimes thought-provoking, and sometimes dangerous, will fill all your senses, quickening your heart with moments of passion. I highly recommend her work. It’s classic!
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Cynthia Wright wrote a fantastic story and Tim Campbell hit it out of the park with the narration. I must admit I didn’t think I would enjoy a historical romance about someone my age. Boy was I wrong. I love the energy and tension between Justin and Mouette. Cynthia did a fabulous job. The story gripped me so much and I had to finish pushing a side everything else. When I was not listening I was thinking about the story. Tim Campbell truly brought every character to life with his very talented voice. I seriously think he could make a phone book sound interesting. I highly recommend this book!!!!
Outstanding performance by Tim Campbell. The story was very typical regency romance but the narrator’s magnificent performance made it a very memorable audible experience. I am so captivated by his talent that I know I will be looking for his audio books. 10 star rating for the narrator. Bravo!
At long last comes Cynthia Wright’s THE MAKE-BELIEVE BRIDE, book 5 of RAKES AND REBELS: THE RAVENEAU FAMILY. The story of Justin St. Briac and Mouette Raveneau Brandreth takes place 10 years after THE SECRET OF LOVE. Justin is called to Cornwall to see his dying mother who wrings a promise from him that he will marry before she dies. Justin decides that he will find a make-believe bride to keep his mother happy and then sail back to France to continue his piratical ways.
Mouette, four years a widow, is determined to never marry after the shoddy treatment of her husband. Raising her two sons alone is hard, especially when she is still trying to get out of debt. All seems hopeless until her friend Isabella St. Briac comes to visit and offers a respite at her home in Cornwall.
The last time Justin and Mouette met, sparks flew. Now they must work together to fulfill his mother’s dying wish, while not losing their hearts.
Mouette and Justin have made appearances in many of Wright’s books and it was well worth the wait to read their story. A unique feature of HMBB is that both Justin and Mouette are older than Wright’s typical romance couple. Justin is eight and forty and Mouette is six and thirty. I thoroughly enjoyed their acknowledgment of their ages, the worries and self-doubt that often accompany that acknowledgment, and the strength that comes from knowing age does not matter.
While HIS MAKE-BELIEVE BRIDE can stand alone, I highly recommend reading the other Raveneau books (especially the Raveneaus in Cornwall books) first. It is then that you totally feel immersed in the story and the families. While there were not cameos from historical figures, which often happen in Wright’s books, there is a strong sense of time and place when she describes picturesque Cornwall.
I have been long awaiting the arrival of THE MAKE-BELIEVE BRIDE, by Cynthia Wright, and am delighted to have finally been able to spend the day with Mouette and Justin. They did not disappoint.
I read the book first and then got to enjoy the audio version narrated by the outstanding Tim Campbell. I was thrilled to listen to Tim Campbell narrate another of Cynthia Wright’s books. His voice and various accents helps to draw you into the story and bring the characters to life. I will now always think of Justin as “Juhs-tahn”. Cynthia Wright’s storytelling paired with Tim Campbell’s narration are both engaging and satisfying and I hope this partnership continues.
I received a free review copies of this eBook and audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Once again the magic duo of Cynthia Wright's words matched with the "he could read me the phone book and I would swoon" voice of Tim Campbell doesn't fail to amaze! I loved the story the first time I read it, and now listening to it read by Tim... can it truly get any better? The way the characters just came alive. I felt like I was truly there as the story was being told. The ruggedly handsome Justin and Mouette the mother that would do anything to keep her family afloat had both built walls around their hearts for different reasons, and a plan to "fake" a wedding caused those walls to come crushing down, although not without resistance on Justin's part. He tried so hard not to fall in love with Mouette, her two boys, and the adorable Robinson (the dog), but in the end he found the family he always longed for and needed, although he didn't even realize it himself. Loved how this story weaved in history, and characters from other beloved books written by Cynthia. It's like coming home to family every time you recognize a beloved character shows up for a visit. <3 Definitely a book worth reading and listening too! <3
See my 5 star review of Cynthia Wright's manuscript on Amazon.
As this is Audible, this is a review of the Audible narration.
As usual, Tim Campbell is stellar. His rich baritone voice and professional characterizations make this story come alive. Listening to Tim is always a pleasure.
'This is the second Audio Book in the St. Briac brother's tales and it is an absolute delight. Cynthia Wright's wonderful romantic tale comes to life under Tim Campbell's rich and exotic accent full of French promise! His accent and voice coats the listener like warm melted chocolate and the story will make you smile all the way through. Cynthia's love story of an ageing, stubborn, sexy libertine, who has a poor belief in true love and trust due to his mother's antics is pulled into opening his heart because of the beautiful, clever and wounded Mouette. It is a delight to listen to this story unfold with the characters of past books in the series lending a hand to guide Justin St. Briac to finally open his heart. I think it is my favourite Rakes & Rebels so far. A triumph for Cynthia and Tim. Do not delay and start listening to it today... magical!'