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Bride
(Review, Synopsis & Summary)

By Ali Hazelwood



Book review and synopsis for Bride by Ali Hazelwood, a funny and swoony paranormal romance about a political alliance secured by a marriage between a vampire and a werewolf.

Synopsis

In Bride by Ali Hazelwood, Misery and Lowe marry to create a political alliance in hopes of marking and end to years of violence between their species -- vampires and werewolves, or Weres.

Misery's father is a councilman and the most influential person in their Nest, while Lowe is the Alpha of his pack. Misery knows little about the Weres apart from knowing that they're ruthless and fearsome killers, but she has her reasons for choosing to agree to this marriage and to living among the Weres.

From political machinations and underhanded plots to swoony romance, there's a lot to be found in this funny and charming paranormal romance novel.

(The Full Plot Summary is also available, below)

Full Plot Summary

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary
See the Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of Bride
Quick Plot Summary

The two-paragraph version: This story takes place in a world where Humans, Weres and Vampyres co-exist. Misery (a Vampyre) marries Lowe (a Were) in a political alliance, since she is the daughter of the most powerful Vampyre in her Nest, and Lowe is the Alpha of his pack. Misery's best friend Serena has been missing for a month. She agreed to the marriage because she came across a note in Serena's things that makes her think Lowe is responsible for Serena's disappearance. Misery goes to live with Lowe and slowly develops feelings for him. She finds out that the note was in reference to Lowe's 7-year-old sister, Ana, and not him. Lowe confides in Misery that Ana is a Were-Human hybrid, which is unheard of.

Misery and Lowe's relationship turns intimate, but Misery is abducted by her own father. It turns out her father has been trying to get his hands on Ana to have leverage over Lowe and because she's a hybrid, but now that he is attached to Misery he tries to use her instead to tell him to hand over Ana. Her father admits to sowing discord between Weres and Humans for years in hopes they will not ally together and wipe out the Vampyres. He believes the Were-Human hybrids are a threat because if others knew it was possible it would encourage them to cross-breed and ally with one another. He was also the one to abduct Serena, since it turns out Serena is a hybrid. When Serena started looking into Ana (because Ana is also a hybrid) her father realized she knew about it and abducted her. In the end, Serena and Lowe manage to overpower Misery's father, and Misery decides to continue living with Lowe and the Weres. Misery's brother plans to take over their father's place and undo the harm he did. The book ends with Serena meeting Koen, one of Lowe's close friends, and them instantly have a bond together.

Bride opens with a wedding ceremony between Misery Lark and Lowe Moreland. They are meeting for the first time today to firm this political alliance. Misery is from a very powerful Vampyre family and the daughter of the most influential councilman in their Nest. Lowe is the Alpha of his pack of Weres (werewolves). This story takes place in a world where Humans, Weres and Vampyres co-exist. Weres and Vampyires have been at war for centuries, but Vampyres and Humans have a tenuous alliance.

In Chapters 1 - 8, the narrative jumps back 6 weeks, to Misery being interrupted at her office job -- as a highly skilled white-hat hacker -- to be brought to her father, who is the most influential figure among their species. He explains that their alliance with the Humans against the Weres is on unstable footing due to the election of a new Governor. Instead, there has also been a change of leadership among the Weres. The Weres are now open to attempting an alliance and securing it through marriage. He wants Misery to marry the Alpha Were and spend one year with them. She protests at first, but agrees when she's told who she would be marrying.

Vampyre alliances have historically been secured with "collateral", each side offering up a valuable hostage to be sent to live with the allied species. Misery was Vampire "collateral" in the Human-Vampyre alliance her youth, and is now going to serve a similar purpose in the new Were-Vampyre alliance. The Were "collateral" is a woman named Gabi who is marrying her brother Owen.

The book soon reveals that Misery's childhood companion and best friend, Serena Paris, has been missing for a month. After trying to track her down, Misery located a page ripped out of a planner marked with an encoded message that said "L.E. Moreland", which is why Misery agreed to the marriage -- she wants to use it as an opportunity to find out what happened to Serena.

After the wedding, Misery moves into the room adjacent to Lowe at his place. She being monitored, but she manages to look into Serena's disappearance. She gets to know Ana, Lowe's 7-year-old younger sister. When there is a kidnapping attempt against her, Misery stops it, though it turns out it was a plot to entrap a group of "Loyalists" who oppose Lowe.

In Chapters 9 - 23, as she gets to know Lowe, she sees that he is the strongest of his kind and compassionate. His predecessor was Roscoe, who was a cruel tyrant. So, Lowe challenged him and won. However, Roscoe's mate Emery is the leader of the "Loyalists".

Feelings grow between Misery and Lowe, though Misery learns that Gabi (the Were collateral) is Lowe's mate. When Misery gets caught snooping around, she's forced to admit that she went there to investigate her friend's disappearance. It turns out "L.E. Moreland" is actually referring to Ana, whose full name is "Liliana Esther Moreland". Lowe confides in Misery that it's a secret that Ana is half-Human and half-Were. They share a mother, but he doesn't know who her human father is. Misery wonders why Serena, a journalist, was looking into Ana.

Lowe instructs Alex, the "tech guy" among the Weres, to work with Misery in her search. Misery also gets to know Juno and Cal, two trusted friends and advisors of Lowe's. And Misery's favorite among her protective detail is Mick, an older Were who previously served Roscoe and chose to support Lowe when he challenged Roscoe.

Misery and Alex's search lead them to the discovery of the name of Ana's father, Thomas, but it turns out he was killed in a car accident two weeks after Serena's disappearance. They learn that his death was engineered by the former Governor Davenport. Meanwhile, Misery helps Lowe on a mission to plant spyware at the Loyalist base under the guide of a peaceful meeting with Emery. They're successful, though Misery gets poisoned in the process and survives. During the mission, Misery and Lowe act on their feelings for one another.

In Chapters 24 - 30, Misery's twin brother Owen asks to meet with her. Misery, Owen, Lowe and Gabi meet up. Owen says that he plans to challenge their father and make a bid for his role as Councilman. Misery doesn't take it seriously at first, but Owen intends to end the collateral system and to stop hostilies among the species.

Seeing Lowe and Gabi interact, Misery realizes that Lowe isn't really Gabi's mate. He admits it's true, that he lied because otherwise they'd want someone else close to him and the only one that could fill that role would be Ana, and he wasn't willing to hand her over. Lowe and Misery have sex, but afterwards Lowe tells Misery that he doesn't share her feelings and they should be apart.

Afterwards, Misery is abducted. She wakes up to find out she's in captivity with Serena, who has been locked up for the last three months. They stage an escape, but soon are stopped and brought to their captors -- Misery's father.

Her father admits to sowing discord between Weres and Humans for years in hopes they will not ally together and wipe out the Vampyres. He believes the Were-Human hybrids are a threat because if others knew it was possible it would encourage them to cross-breed and ally with one another. It turns out Serena is a hybrid. When she started looking into Ana (because Ana is also a hybrid) her father realized she knew about it, which is why Serena had to be abducted.

Lowe is then brought in. It turns out her father has been trying to get his hands on Ana to have leverage over Lowe and because she's a hybrid, but now that he is attached to Misery he tries to use her instead to tell him to hand over Ana. Also, it's revealed that Mick is the one who drugged Misery and abducted. His son has been captured by the Vampyres and they're using that to control him.

In the end, Serena and Lowe manage to overpower Misery's father. Mick and his son are reunited though its unclear what his fate will be. Lowe admits to his feelings for Misery, and she decides to continue living with Lowe and the Weres. The book ends with Serena meeting Koen, one of Lowe's close friends, and Koen instantly realizing that Serena is his mate.

For more detail, see the full Chapter-by-Chapter Summary.

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Book Review

In the interests of full disclosure, paranormal romance is really, really not up my alley. But I liked the last Ali Hazelwood book that I read, The Love Hypothesis, and I’ve been planning on reading another of her books.

Then, I got an e-mail from a longtime supporter and patron of the site expressing interest in this title, which came out last month. While I obviously can’t fulfill every or even most requests for reviews since that would be way too many books, I’m always curious about what other people are interested in reading, and I do occasionally like to venture outside my comfort zone to see if I might be pleasantly surprised.

So, I thought, I bet this will be fast, so why not? It’s new, let’s do it.

The basic premise is that a vampire woman, Misery Lake, has agreed to an arranged marriage with the leader of the werewolf pack. Misery has been doing office job (working as a white-hat hacker) and living among the humans, but she’s also the daughter of the most powerful councilman among the Vampires. The purpose of the marriage is to forge an alliance between their two warring species.

So, yeah. Bride is a straight-up vampire and werewolf romance. If those words turn you off, I don’t think anything I’m going to say here is going to change your mind. You can probably stop reading this and go do something else.

Things I Liked

That said, while this definitely still is a paranormal romance, there is a lot more world-building and political machinations than you might expect and certainly more than I expected. I think it’s probably an individual preference if you’d prefer a straight-up romance or if you like more politics and even a little bit of a mystery — the disappearance of the protagonist’s best friend is what drives a vast majority of the plot — so I don’t think it’s necessarily objectively a good or bad thing.

For me, it was a good thing. I liked the parts with more world-building, and I thought Hazelwood did a good job of thinking through some aspects of her world and giving enough structure to the story without suffocating it.

Despite what her name might suggest, Misery makes for a very engaging and charming protagonist. She’s witty and sardonic and genuinely funny. Meanwhile, Lowe is more of the typical “golden retriever” type guy that often appears in romance novels. He’s guileless and loyal and the leader of his kind.

I felt similarly about this book as I did with Ali Hazelwood’s previous novel. My conclusion about her thus far is that she seems to lean pretty heavily into a lot of romance cliches, taking full advantage of them as opposed to trying to subvert them, but she doesn’t do it in a lazy way. She executes them effectively, and it creates a lot of fun romantic tension.

Some Criticisms

So, there’s plenty of stuff Hazelwood does well with this book. If I’m being honest though, the paranormal romance stuff really did not jive with me. Of course, that’s a personal preference. I can do a vampire love story, but this werewolf stuff … no thanks. And there are definitely some sex scenes.

Apart from that, I didn’t find the investigation into Serena’s disappearance interesting enough to sustain as much of the attention that it gets in the book. I think Ali Hazelwood is not quite as skilled in plotting out a mystery as she is in creating romantic tension. It’s something that the protagonist is looking into and it drives a lot of her decision-making or thoughts in the book, but reading descriptions of her poking around in various places and in various ways was not all that interesting — instead I would have preferred a slow reveal of information and whatnot like you would have in a proper mystery.

I get that this is a romance novel, but it’s a romance novel under the guise of our protagonist being driven by investigating this disappearance. It’s not a slow-moving story, but it started to drag for me in certain parks. There is one really big infodump towards the end of the story, where they basically try to explain a bunch of stuff.

I think I would’ve preferred more smaller “reveals” which would’ve made the mystery more compelling to me as opposed to a lot of descriptions of the protagonist trying and failing to find anything out, followed by one very lengthy dump of information towards the end.

Read it or Skip it?

This book is not going to be for everyone, maybe not even for fans of Alix Hazelwood’s previous books. When I read The Love Hypothesis a while back, I really enjoyed it — but I think it’s going to be a case-by-case basis whether werewolf sex scenes is something that works for you.

But the tone, the wit and the romance is still there. Ultimately, paranormal romance is another beast (get it? get it??) that not everyone is going to be into, but if you’re into it, definitely consider giving Bride a read.

I liked many parts of this more than I thought I would and it really is often genuinely funny, but I ultimately struggled through some parts, partially because the mystery aspects I think could’ve been structured in a more compelling way. Still, I think Ali Hazelwood has offered up a quippy, fun and funny, swoony romance set in a well developed and politically complex world for fans of paranormal romance.

See Bride on Amazon.

Bride Audiobook Review

Narrator: Thérèse Plummer & Will Damron
Length: 12 hours 46 minutes

Hmm. I made the decision to listen to this on audiobook so I could do some other stuff while I listened to it, but the narrator didn’t entirely didn’t agree with me. Occasionally, it was about the things that she chose to stress or her vocal inflections that just felt a little off, but I think it was mostly just that her energy didn’t really vibe with this story or this protagonist.

In general, I felt like the narrator embodied a kind of an “older” energy. It seemed like this story with its young protagonist and youthful energy would be better served with something else. Like, our protagonist has more of a teenage emo-girl energy and the narrator feels like her mom reading from her diary.

I still ended up listening to the full audiobook since there I was trying to work on some illustrations while I was doing this, but I don’t know that I would recommend it unless you are determined like me to listen to it instead of reading it.

Hear a sample of Bride audiobook on Libro.fm.

Spoiler-ish Thoughts

SPOILERS START HERE. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

I had a couple minor gripes with the big scene where everything gets explained.

I fully get that Councilman Lark is evil and happy to kill off his own daughter, but his reason for poisoning her is so unconvincing. To cause a distraction for Lowe? This guy is way too strategic to think that his daughter — a very important political pawn — wouldn’t be more useful to die a different way or to be used in some other way. I don’t buy that at all.

Secondly, if Lowe was able to get out of his restraints by shifting, what does he even need Serena for? He clearly can take all of these Vamps barely even trying. They’ve spent so long battling and dealing with Weres and they didn’t figure out that they can get out of handcuffs by shifting? They didn’t figure out some type of technology to properly restrain a Were? No wonder Vamps are dying out.

I don’t think either of these things are important enough to warrant not reading this book, but I just wanted to grouse about it a little.

Book Excerpt

Read the first pages of Bride



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