Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wedding of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke

Abandoned at the altar…

Lady Beatrix Danbury has always known she would marry William Mallory. She’d loved him forever, and she’d never doubted he loved her, too. But when she made him choose between their life together and his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter, and left two weeks before their wedding.

Return of the duke…

Will has no illusions that Beatrix will welcome him back with open arms, but six years has not diminished his love or his desire for her. The only problem is that she’s about to marry someone else. Someone safe and predictable… the complete opposite of Will. But can he stop the wedding of the season and win Beatrix back, or is it just too late?

Like so many other readers and bloggers, I have a long list of authors who I have never read, but who I think I would probably like. Before I read this book, and the sequel to it, Laura Lee Guhrke was on that list. As a historical romance author, she had been highly recommended to me in the past by people whose opinion I really respected. The main reason why I hadn't actually read her before was to do with the fact that I really, really dislike reading a series out of order. Of the series that had been recommended to me, my library only had the third and fourth book.

When I got my ereader, one of the first things I did was joined Netgalley, and when I saw Laura Lee Guhrke listed with the first and second books of a new series, what else was I going to do but request them both! And then when I went interstate, these were the first two books that I read on the flight using said ereader!

All of that is a very long introduction as to why I read this book! What about what is between the covers of the book?

Lady Beatrix Danbury is looking forward to her wedding in just a few weeks. Her fiance Aidan may be a bit rigid, and there might not be a great passion between them, but Beatrix at least knows that there will be no scandal attached this time, for this isn't the first time that Beatrix has been just about to get married. Six years previously she was going to marry William Mallory, the man she had always loved, the man who she had been getting into adventures with since she was just a young girl, the man of her dreams. The only problem was that whilst William wanted desperately to marry Beatrix, he also had other dreams, dreams involving living in Egypt and pursuing his passionate interest in archeology. A few weeks before  the wedding the couple realise that whilst their basic dream of being together is the same, their ideas of how they would spend their time together are very different and completely incompatible. William leaves behind his family responsibilities, and heads to Egypt without Beatrix and she is left to pick up the pieces of her life and face the scandal.

Six years later, William is back, mainly to obtain more financing, but also to claim Beatrix. He may have been away for all that time, but he has never forgotten her and believes that their love was so strong that she must still love him as well.

There were a number of things that I really enjoyed about this novel. The first is the setting. When Beatrix and Will are reacquainted it is in the most unfortunate of circumstances. She is driving her motorcar and she runs him over. Yes, this is a historical novel, and yes, I said motor car. For the setting is in the Edwardian era and it provided a fascinating backdrop to the novel, mainly because of the social and technological changes that were taking place at that time. Whilst there were still strict rules around what was acceptable behaviour in society, it was almost as though the world was changing so quickly, that there was no way for the two parts of the world to not clash in some way.

Whilst Beatrix is being quite safe socially in now marrying Aidan, Duke of Trathen, she is in other ways considered quite scandalous in that she didn't follow the traditions associated with mourning when her beloved father died, she drives one of those terrible motor cars at dizzying speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, she drinks champagne and walks barefoot on the beach. Scandalous! The visual in my mind as the author described Beatrix driving along in her Daimler, wearing her driving goggles, Turkish trousers and driving coat was so enchanting. At one stage, I was on Twitter and someone mentioned that the heroine in the book she was reading just put on her driving goggles, and I knew instantly that they were reading this book. When we see so many historical romances with the same settings, same plots etc all the time, that individuality alone should make giving this book a go worth while.

I am not really sure why we don't see why more romances that are written using settings like this. I have seen mentioned before that is because we know that WWI and the 1918 influenza pandemic is coming and so we don't like the thought of the happy ever after that our characters have achieved may be shortlived, but to be honest, that doesn't worry me all that much. Once we leave the pages of any romance - historical, contemporary or paranormal - we just have to assume that the happily ever after lasts a long time. After all, there are plenty of things that could go wrong at any time. Being a romance couple it most likely won't, but it could.

Another thing I really enjoyed in this book was the dialogue between Beatrix and Will. There was a really good snap to the dialogue between the two, and to me it was obvious that they both had unresolved feelings towards each other. I loved that Will was always the one who was coaxing the more naturally cautious Beatrix to take risks, to trust him to give her new adventures whilst still keeping her safe! Much was made of the fact that Will left Beatrix to go to Egypt, but I thought that he put a fair case forward as to why he felt as though she had abandoned him as well. As two much younger people they may not have communicated effectively, but there was no doubting their compatibility. Perhaps now that time has passed there may be different ways to resolve some of these issues?

So I liked the setting, the dialogue, the characters. Sounds like a winning book all round doesn't it? Well, yes and no, because what really, really let this book down was the ending. It was rushed, and the resolution left Beatrix acting out of character in my opinion. I guess that it was supposed to be romantic, but it just didn't quite work for this reader. Oh, and the other thing that didn't work for me - the cover! Doesn't seem to fit the story at all. Just as well I was reading it on my ereader on the plane.

I have already read the follow up book to this one, and now I am definitely going back to the library catalogue and seeing if they have added any other Laura Lee Guhrke books so that I can read more.

Thanks to Netgalley for the e-ARC.


  1. Darn! It all sounded so good until you got to the ending! I hate it when an ending feels rushed as well, so I can understand your frustration with this one.

  2. I quite enjoyed this one myself, but I do sort of agree about the ending. I didn't really see how the characters could actually get together without compromising one of their personalities. Overall, though, I really liked the book.

  3. Oh great, this is available on NetGalley? I've just signed up, and tomorrow/this weekend will be my first read from there! Really curious about the entire business model they have - do you think it works out?
    i.e. do enough ppl read and review to justify giving it away for free?

  4. Sucks about the ending but maybe her other books are not that way. I also love snappy dialogue between the intended couple. Continues a bit of the chase element, and makes them interesting. Great review Marg :)

  5. Jenny, don't know! I have just borrowed one of her backlist titles so guess I will find out soon enough.

    Deepali, it was, but I don't think it is now.

    Meghan, I am not sure it was the compromise, so much as the rushed nature of the compromise that bothered me!

    Zibilee, authors have it tough - we want a good beginning, a strong middle and am amazing ending!

  6. I just started reading this one today!

    Breathless is an interesting and good book by this author.