I love Lynsay Sands' Argeneau vampire family series, but had only read one of her non-Argeneau books prior to this (The Highland Bride, which was also about a vampire). The Brat is a historical romance, with no supernatural elements, unless you count the fact that Murie, the heroine, is incredibly superstitious. And that superstition is what drives her into the arms of the hero..
Murie was orphaned at the age of ten, and brought to court to live with the King, her godfather, and the Queen, who never seemed very welcoming to the young girl. She was bullied by the other girls, until a girl named Emilie gave her some advice on how to survive life at court. Thus, she became The Brat, known for her fits of weeping and wailing loudly. The King doted on her, spoiling her horribly.
Balan has come to court with his cousin, Osgoode, in need of a wife, preferably one with coin. After his mother died in childbirth, his father neglected the child and allowed his castle to fall into a state of disrepair until his own death. Then the plague struck, and many of the servants and all of the villagers who survived fled for greener pastures, leaving a small collection of loyal servants who, try as they might, just can't do it all. Osgoode suggest the Lady Murie for a wife, to which Balan reacts with horror. Marry the Brat? God, no!
Murie has been ordered by the king to marry, but will be allowed to choose her own husband. Knowing of her superstitious nature, one of the ladies, Lauda, tells her about a St. Agnes Eve belief, that if you either fast all day, or eat rotten meat on that day, you will dream that night of the man you are to marry.
But Balan and Osgoode have overheard two separate conversations – Murie and her best friend talking about how Murie got the king to order her to marry, and Lauda and her brother, Lord Aldous, scheming to trick Murie into marrying him. Realizing there is more to Murie than the rumors and her nickname imply, they determine that they must thwart Lord Aldous, which inadvertently puts Balan in Murie's path as a potential husband. Thank goodness they have no problem eavesdropping!
As with the Argeneau books, Lynsay Sands infuses plenty of humor into her story, causing me to laugh out loud more than once. Murie and Balan wed for practical and convenience reasons, and of course eventually realize they actually love each other, and I was quite in love with Balan practically from the beginning. It's not all roses and rainbows of course, as while traveling to Balan's home it becomes apparent that someone is out to kill Balan, and nearly succeeds more than once. I thought I knew who was behind the murder attempts, it seemed so obvious, but I was wrong, and I like that.
A very enjoyable book, with a satisfying HEA.
(I received this book through Book Mooch.)