Monday, January 10, 2011

Wedding of the Season

Wedding of the Season by Laura Lee Guhrke 109

Beatrix Danbury loved William Mallory her entire life and their engagement and eventual marriage was a foregone conclusion. But Will felt stifled by his life and the expectations surrounding his eventual inheritance of the Sunland Dukedom, and he dreamed of one day escaping to Egypt where he could explore his archeological passions. Two weeks before their wedding he was offered the opportunity of a lifetime and, thinking that Beatrix would be thrilled and willing to join him, he accepts. Beatrix is horrified and refuses to leave her father, her safe existence, and the life she has planned out for herself in England so their wedding is called off and Will goes to Egypt for six years. Beatrix was heartbroken but comforted herself by feeling secure, but when her father dies her life is once again thrown into disarray and she begins to take more adventures like the sort she took with Will when she was younger. She meets and becomes engaged to Aidan, the Duke of Tretham, just as Will comes back to England looking for more funding.

Will never got over Beatrix, or the abandoned feelings when she refused to go with him, and he is sad that she has chosen someone so safe and predictable when he feels she needs more adventure after living to satisfy her father for so long. Beatrix is furious at Will for returning right as her life is looking good again, but his return reminds her of all the fun they had and all the reasons she fell in love with him in the first place. It isn't long before Will knows he wants Beatrix back; he wants to teach her to be adventurous again and take her with him to Egypt. Beatrix is still scared of taking the plunge and worried about breaking things off with Aidan, but when one adventure goes too far everyone is forced to admit that her marriage to Aidan was always an impossibility because she can never feel for him what she felt for Will. Will knows without a doubt that he loves Beatrix but he cannot give up his life long dream of discover King Tut's tomb and he wants desperately to convince Beatrix to finally take the chance of a lifetime. Beatrix must finally step out of her safe existence and discover for herself that taking a big leap of faith is worth it to spend her life with the man she loves.

I am a sucker for romances where the hero and heroine are long lost lovers because it provides wonderful amounts of angst and often involves copious introspection on the part of both of the characters that results in great character development. We get to see these characters as they were as children, as they were during the first blush of youth, and as they fell in love all over again. Beatrix is wonderful as the fearful and yet secretly adventurous woman who wants a family and the predictable English aristocratic life. Will is also great, although less well developed, as the explorer who wants to buck the system and carve out a new life. Beatrix is perfect for the adventurous Will and they both bring out the best in each other and while he makes her take risks, she makes him see the benefit of a more safe life. I do wish they had spent more time together that wasn't relegated to him making her take risks though and I really wish there had been more sex between these two. There were a few lukewarm scenes and only one completed scene and none of it was precisely hot. But it was clear that both of them genuinely loved the other and I did like that.

I do not like a book where the hero jilts the heroine and what made this book so great was that they both were equally jilted and felt the other was responsible for their breakup. And it was easy to see the situation from both sides as I empathized with Beatrix for wanting it safe and respecting English tradition and with Will who wanted adventure and to find a way out of the dying aristocracy. It made sense for Beatrix to expect Will to stay and for Will to expect Beatrix to follow him so I felt like it was not correct to blame one of them for what happened more than the other. I liked that the book did not make either Beatrix for being fearful and wanting security or Will who wanted adventure and a new life, out to be wrong or a villain- they just wanted different things. While the end could not be a compromise between their choices, the right choice won out in the end and it was a choice that made both of them happy. As usual I enjoyed Guhrke's writing style, but I still felt like the book went very slowly and kind of dragged overall. However, I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel to this, which tells Aidan's story.

Rating: A great exploration of two very different people forming a loving, balanced relationship, but I was still bored by the book at times.

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