November 16, 2016
A Date at the Altar is part of the Marrying the Duke series.
Poor Gavin. This isn't the first time we've run into Gavin, Duke of Baynton. In the two
previous books Gavin was a secondary character who kept getting stood up at the wedding altar. He also happens to be a secondary character who almost stole the book in Fairest of the All. If you remember correctly in that book he and Sarah Pettijohn were chasing a runaway couple across the country. Gavin and Sarah were the only good thing about that book and now it's their turn.
I admit, I was looking forward to this book. I was hoping that Ms. Maxwell could create a story worthy of the fascinating secondary characters of Sarah and Gavin. Alas, they suffered from Secondary Characteritis. That's a disease that great secondary character get when they get their own books. One of the symptoms of this disease is a character is written one way when they are supporting, but then they change when they get their own books. So many expectations have been crushed by not enlarging on the way they are written when they first open their mouths in their supporting roles. When this story started I had hopes that this story would go in a direction I might like. But it soon became apparent that I was being lead down a different path. And, as the story progressed I became less and less fond of our hero, Gavin. Realistically I know that a real duke would never offer marriage to an actress (although some have). But as I grow older I'm becoming less fond of heroes offering a less than honorable proposition to a woman they supposedly love. I have a problem with my hero believing he loves the woman he's offering a carte blanche to and still planning on marrying someone else. It's a lose, lose situation for all involved. The mistress and the wife both lose. In the hands of some writers this kind of story line can be pulled off, but Ms. Maxwell doesn't.
This story had all the right ingredients to make it a fun great read. Gavin is a virgin, a rarity in Romanceland, and Sarah has been married before. Gavin realizes he is strongly attracted to Sarah and really really wants to end his virginity. Sarah on the other hand isn't all that interested in a relationship with a man - her marriage was a failure. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is forced to accept his proposition.
All of a sudden Gavin changes from an uptight stuffed-shirt into a free-wheeling man about town. He is also one of those virgins who know what goes where and how much ding to put in the ding-a-ling. I just wish his idea of honor had been different. I'm tired of "men of their time." As I said before his character didn't set well with me. Sarah I liked better; her character didn't change all that much from the last book.
For me this book was another disappointment in a long line of disappointments. I wish the book had continued the dynamics that were established in the previous book. They were quite humorous then, especially when Sarah was getting on every inch of Gavin's stuffed-shirt nerves. The character momentum just did not carry through. A big disappointment.
Time/Place: Regency England