Thursday, 3 February 2011

9. "Wedding of the Season" by Laura Lee Guhrke

Publisher: Avon
Page count: 384 pages
Date begun: January 30th, 2011
Date finished: January 31st, 2011

William Mallory, the Duke of Sunderland, is back in England for a brief time to see to his estates and borrow more money to fund his archaeological expedition in Egypt, where he's searching for the tomb of King Tutankhamen. He knows he can't avoid seeing his former fiancee, Lady Beatrix Danbury, as he wants to borrow the money off her cousin. Six years earlier, Will asked Beatrix to come with him on his adventures in Egypt, shortly before the couple were due to marry in a huge society event, but she turned him down. Now she's engaged to the Duke of Thrathen and likely to have all her dreams of a big family fulfilled.

Beatrix was shocked when Will asked her to come to Egypt. Her cousin's best friend, she always knew they'd get married, and she loved him since she was a little girl. Leaving one's family, estates and social obligations to go off digging for elusive treasures in the desert was never part of her plans, and she felt forced to turn Will down. Hoping for years that he'd return and choose her over Egypt, she finally convinced herself that she was over him, and accepted the proposal of another man, Aidan Carr, who is everything Will is not. He has a sense of tradition, honour, family and plans their honeymoon around his obligations on his estates and in Parliament. Some may consider him dull, Beatrix knows that he is safe and trust-worthy, if a bit overprotective.

Shortly before Beatrix is due to finally get her wedding of the season, she and Will are thrown together at the house party of a mutual friend. Upon seeing her again (when she nearly runs him over in her Daimler), Will is determined to win her back, and convince her to come with him to Egypt this time. Can he awaken Beatrix' dormant sense of adventure and persuade her that she's not over him after all?

I'd read a few romances by Laura Lee Guhrke before, and I like that she doesn't feel the need to set them during the Regency era, standard setting for a vast majority of historical romances (or so it seems, anyway). I'd heard mixed reports of this one, mainly from historical sticklers who couldn't get over the fact that Will is looking for the tomb of King Tutankhamen far earlier than the actual excavations for said tomb actually took place. I did not feel that this factual error in any way detracted from the story. Will and Beatrix are a nice couple, and complement each other well. It's clear that they're meant to be together, and that to an extent, it's a misunderstanding of each other's expectations of marriage, and Beatrix's controlling father that caused them to break up in the first place.

It's always a tricky thing when your hero has to steal the heroine away from another man. How do you do that without making him an unsympathetic cad? Sometimes the author chooses to make said other man utterly unlikable, but Guhrke has chosen not to make Aidan (the hero of a companion romance) a villain or a freak who clearly doesn't deserve the heroine, just someone who doesn't suit her very much, and who is clearly the rebound guy. He's kind and honourable, and reacts remarkably calmly to losing his fiancee, and I'm actually looking forward to reading the novel where he gets his own happy ending.

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