Six years have passed since Serena Donovan left London as a fallen woman to return to her family’s home in Antigua, but the shame of her very public humiliation has not diminished whatsoever. When Serena’s mother concocts a plan to return her daughter to London and society’s bosom, Serena knows that the results could be devastating to all involved. She wants nothing more than to see her younger sisters well situated and happy, and that can only be accomplished in one way: Serena must assume the identity of her beloved dead twin sister, Meg.
Jonathan Dane was responsible for Serena’s departure from London, and he has never stopped loving the young woman he deflowered and denied. When he meets Meg/Serena once more, he suspects that there is more going on than meets the eye, and things begin to get interesting, especially since Dane is close friends with the man Meg is betrothed to, Captain William Langley. Serena has so many things pressuring her – her mother’s hopes and demands, the censure of her aunt and London chaperone and the supervision of her sister, Phoebe, who has travelled to London from Antigua with Serena. But the biggest source of overwhelming stress to Serena is the complex game she herself has crafted to keep Jonathan at bay while continuing the charade of being Captain Langley’s intended bride.
With deception comes guilt, layer upon layer, and each of the main characters has plenty to be guilty about. Dane is remorseful about the consequences of his actions six years ago. Serena feels terrible about deceiving Langley, who is a kind man who dearly loved her sister. But Langley has his own secrets as well. Add in Phoebe’s hijinks, and it’s quite possible that the story could become convoluted, but it does not. Author Haymore handles the complex interweaving plot lines masterfully, keeping them all running at an even and readable pace. Each character is dynamic and interesting, and the dialogue between them is well crafted, helping to keep the story moving smoothly.
This is the type of story that readers will either love or hate. Serena can be seen as a very strong woman, holding many pieces tenuously together, or she can be seen as a coward, taking the easy (not really) way out by deceit and avoidance of confrontation. Serena forgives Jonathan too readily in some ways, and her sexual attraction to him outweighs her own logic and reason. But the underlying theme of the strength of love, familial and romantic, shines, making Confessions of an Improper Bride a terrific first story in the promising Donovan sisters series.