The Shocking Secret of the Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

November 22, 2014
"Mother the word that means the world to me."

Let me get this off of my chest. I had problems with this book - it took forevvvvver to read. If my Nook was as cheap as a paperback it might have hit the wall. Besides the hamster-on-a-wheel plotline, there was another matter that I found irritating and it has to do with "possessive" words or the lack thereof.  There are three mothers in this story - three. Every single time those three mothers are thought about it is always "mother did this, "or" mother went there, "or" mother wore a hat, "or" mother kicked a horse." It is never "her" mother did this or "his" mother went there or "Teddy's" mother kicked a horse. Let me repeat, there are three mothers in this book! I had to read down through the paragraph/page/conversation to figure out which mother was being referenced. There are also fathers in the book, but only one has any children in the story so I could keep track of him.

Normally I love Victoria Alexander books. I love her sense of humor. Granted, there is a lot of 21st century vernacular in them, but that doesn't mean they aren't funny. Sadly to say the humorous moments in The Shocking Secret of the Guest at the Wedding were overshadowed by the lack of emotion from any of the characters in the book. I'm not sure what went wrong because at first glance this book should have worked.

Our hero, Jackson Quincy Graham Channing, a New York City banker finds out that his father isn't dead. Poor Jackson. For all of his 32 years he has been told that his father died before he was born. His mother and grandfather raised him - his life is all organized - he has a sort of fiancé - he's got a career - he's content. However, standing in the same room with him is his father - the one he thought was dead. To say his life is about to be disrupted is an understatement. It seems his mother has been keeping a secret; not only from him but from the man who is his father, Basil Channing. Needless to say Jackson and Basil are a little POed with Jackson's mother. Anyway, Jackson and Basil decide they want to get to know each other. They decide to go back to Basil's home in England, learn about each other and give Jackson the opportunity to become acquainted with the cousins he never knew he had.

In England is the Channing family, and they are also oblivious to the fact that Basil was married and fathered a child. They are also in the middle of planning a wedding with the help of our heroine, Lady Theodosia "Teddy" Winslow. Teddy is a wedding planner. Now, I had my doubts that a woman in that time period could be a wedding planner but I glossed over that. Anyway, Teddy is one of those stunning, long-legged, red-headed, lush heroines who instantly brings down stodgy heroes when they enter the room - and that's what happens in this book. That is also the only spark I could find in the book. I kept reading, plowing on, waiting for a connection, a spark - any kind of life springing off of these pages - but nothing happened.

Remember all those times we want our heroine and hero to talk to each other? Well Jackson and Teddy talk, they discuss, they plan, they harangue, they drone on and on and on. They have a pretend engagement - they love each other - Jackson wants to make it a real engagement - Teddy wants to be a professional, she can never marry - he loves her, he knows she loves him, she doesn't want him to know she loves him, she will be sad when he leaves on his adventure because she loves him. He talks to his father, she talks to her friends, her mother talks to her, his mother talks to his father. And let's not forget the Teddy's dead fiancé who shows up alive and well and in the mood for blackmail - which he has to talk about.

I never had a sense of any connection between Teddy and Jackson. They were just flat unexciting characters and Teddy was irritating in her "I want a career instead of a marriage with a man I love and who loves me" routine. I also never figured out what happened to drive Jackson's parent's apart; other than Basil wanting adventure, it was never fully explained. It also would have been nice if we had been able to see just how Basil and his wife were able to settle their differences. And, these were not just minor differences, these involved keeping a child from his father for 32 years.

Jackson is a beta hero and I usually love beta guys, but in this case he was more of a weenie than anything else. Maybe that could have been some of the problem. He just wasn't that dynamic. He was just all right, and heroes need to be more than just all right, even if they are beta guys.  The sensual chemistry between the pair was also missing. There are a few kisses and then some bed romping but it all seemed lackluster.

Sorry to say I can't recommend this book. Much to my surprise, it was a pretty bland offering from Ms. Alexander. Because of how much I love most of Ms. Alexander's books, this was a big disappointment. I'm not giving up on her; she's one of my auto-reads. It's just that this was a tedious read for me.

Time/Place: Bustle time in England
Sensuality: There is sex, however it's not sensual

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