Title: Wedding of the Season
Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Book #1 in the Abandoned at the Altar series
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: 1 January 2011
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Source: review copy provided by publisher through Netgalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle Store, Book Depository
Grade: 4.5 stars
Abandoned at the altar... Lady Beatrix Danbury had 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 or his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter... and left two weeks before their wedding.
Return of the duke... Will has no illusions that Beatrix would welcome him back with open arms, but six years did not dim his love or desire for her. The only problem is, 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?
My Thoughts: Based on the (quite horrible) cover and blurb I was expecting Wedding of the Season to be a regency romance, well imagine my shock when in the scene where the heroine is introduced to us she's driving a car and wearing trousers! Yes, I warn you: make no mistakes this historical romance is set in the beginning of the 20th century, around 1904: Beatrix is a modern young woman of 25: she wears trousers, drives a car and shock: she has even smoked a couple of cigarettes!
I don't think I've ever read a historical romance novel set around this time: it was either regency or World War historicals for me. It was an interesting epoque and if you want to imagine the athmosphere of the novel and what to expect, I would say picture an episode of Hercule Poirot (played by David Suchet): the women's independence and rebellion against the conservative roles and the whole "holidaying at a summer house with friends" reminded me of that.
What sets Wedding of the Season apart from the other historical romances I have read so far (besides the timeframe) is how realistic the difficulties and obstacles were: Will is an adventure seeking duke: he has dreamt of ancient civilisations since he was a boy and he's right where he always wanted to be: on an excavation in Egypt, he is passionate about archeology, history and discovery. Meanwhile Beatrix likes her life the way her ancestors have lived theirs: she wants to stay in England, get married and raise her children in the countryside where she grew up. Tradition, history and responsibility are important to her and this is where and how she wants to live her life. It seems their two dreams cannot be reconciled and I was amazed at the realistic description and approach Laura Lee Guhrke took when presenting their dilemma in detail through the novel.
Wedding of the Season is not the usual fairy tale historical romance where the alpha male scoundrel/gentleman hero sweeps the heroine off her feet (literally) and they live happily ever after. In this book the problems are realistic and the doubts and concerns of the hero and the heroine are real: one can easily understand both point of view and see that they want two very different things from life. (Although their camaraderie, love and friendship and all their memories from their shared childhood made this realisation even more bittersweet.)
I was looking forward to the ending of the novel with bated breath because I was curious to see how Laura Lee Guhrke would resolve souch a dilemma (since it is a historical romance I had no doubts there would be a happy ending): I was hoping that after portraying such a modern and progressive heroine she wouldn't ruin everything with having Beatrix abandon her idea of happiness and the life she wanted and sacrifice everything just to join Will on his way to realising his dreams. And I have to say overall I'm happy with the way she ended the story.
Verdict: Wedding of the Season is an intelligent and realistic historical romance set in an interesting time: at the dawn of women awakening to their freedom and claiming their independence. If you are tired of classical regency historicals or if you just want something else, try Wedding of the Season.
The Abandoned at the Altar series:
Book #1 Wedding of the Season
Book#2 Scandal of the Year