Book Review: The Knight’s Substitute Bride by Melissa Oliver

About the Book:

Title: The Knight’s Substitute Bride

Author: Melissa Oliver

Series: Brothers and Rivals

Page Length: 288

Publication Date: Nov. 28, 2023

Publisher: Harlequin

Synopsis: Could the wrong bride…

Be right for him after all?

For the sake of his family name, Lord Robert must marry to seal an alliance with an Irish clan. Only, the woman at the altar isn’t who he was promised! Instead, it’s her sister, Lady Mairenn! The sharp-tongued Irish beauty is as reluctant to wed as Robert, but as friction turns to fire between them, she’s further derailing Robert’s plans for this purely pragmatic arrangement…

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon    |     BAM

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My Review: 

This is the second book in the Brothers and Rivals duology and focuses on Lord Robert de Brunville, brother of the MMC in the first book. Lord Robert has arranged a marriage to seal an alliance with Clan Darach and is betrothed to Lady Mairenn’s older sister. But when Mairenn helps her sister secretly marry the man she truly loves, Lord Robert must marry Mairenn in her stead or else risk the alliance. What starts as a reluctant union slowly changes as the pair grow closer,

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – Melissa Oliver writes exceptional historical romances with compelling, layered characters and epic love stories. I always fall in love with her books, and The Knight’s Substitute Bride just reaffirms why I adore her writing so much.

Like most of Oliver’s female protagonists, Mairenn is a strong, intelligent, and layered woman. She is bold, willful, and opinionated, the exact opposite of her sister, whom Robert was initially betrothed to. And though Robert thinks he wants a more refined wife, he soon realizes the treasure he has in Mairenn. He is a compelling character, too, and his growth over the course of the book is fantastic.

Mairenn wants to be valued and respected for her intellect and insight. She knows she has a lot to offer, and she was one of her father’s trusted advisors when it came to clan issues. So, she is hurt and angry when Robert and his uncle brush off her help. Mairenn and Robert have very different views on their union and the expectations that come with it, which highlights the fact that they are from different worlds. It’s an interesting social commentary and a look at the roles of men and women in different countries at that time.

Mairenn and Robert did not enter into their marriage with promises of love. Mairenn already risked her heart with another and won’t do it again, and Robert was taught that marriage was a transaction and love shouldn’t be a factor. So, both characters have walls up. However, their chemistry is undeniable. I loved how they slowly grew closer and started to fall in love with each other. It sneaks up on them in the best of ways, and they both learn a lot about relationships, love, and trust. They have THE BEST banter, and the sexual tension between these two is off the charts. I love how much Robert enjoys verbally sparring with Mairenn and getting a reaction out of her. You can see how happy she makes him, and it’s amazing to see how she gets Robert to be a little wild and impulsive and to think about himself and not just his duties.

On top of the characters and romance, there’s also an interesting plot, and I definitely want to go back and read the first book in the series to learn more about Robert’s brother and what happened between them. Some underhanded and potentially dangerous situations add intrigue to the story, and the romantic declarations and epilogue.. SWOON!

Special thanks to Melissa Oliver for sending me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The banter.
  • The writing,

Favorite Lines:

Some might say that adapting to the very things that are unknown and unfamiliar can also bring about what you want.

“By God, woman, you are odd.”

“Thank you.”

“You are thanking me?”

“Why yes, it is far better than being described as rude or God forbid, docile or even graceful.”


  • arranged marriage
  • opposites attract

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