by Adrianne Byrd, contemporary (2008)
Kimani, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-373-86056-2
No, Adrianne Byrd's Two Grooms And A Wedding is not a ménage à trois story. I don't believe the author intends to branch out into erotic romance yet, at least not at the time of writing, heh, so I hope nobody reads this book expecting the heroine to play footsie with two men at the same time until death do the three of them part. She does manage to get herself engaged to two men at the same time, though.
Isabella Kane has always believed that she will marry Randall Jarrett. If I want to get Freudian, I'd say it's because Randall is exactly like her control-freak senator father - ambitious, determined, and bossy. The signs are very visible that this union isn't meant to be from the start, as any experienced romance reader can tell after a quick "spot the clichés" game. For one, her father approves of the union between her and Randall, and we all know what this means. Secondly, she's not exactly overcome with red hot passion at the mention of his name. Instead, Isabella is more bewildered that the handsome Randall will choose to marry her (she thinks of herself as a Plain Jane type). Three, she's not over the moon when Randall proposes to her at the start of the story. Four, she is protesting to her friends that love can happen after the wedding vows have been exchanged, so marriage to Randall isn't that bad an idea. Five, she seems pathetically grateful that Randall wants her when no other man she meets apparently does.
I can go on and on, such as how all her friends keep telling her that it is bad idea to marry the wrong man, but I'm sure you get the drift by now. If not, you will definitely get the message when the author heavy-handedly shoves down the reader's throat the fact that Randall is a cheating asshole even before he has married Isabella.
She has the opposite reaction to Derrick Knight where passion is concerned. The player is trying to set his priorities straight and make a career out of being a political strategist for Randall. Deflowering his employer's virgin fiancée may seem like a great title for a Harlequin Presents book but it's also a terrible career move, especially when Randall had previously caught him in bed with Randall's ex-girlfriend in the past.
There is no suspense here as to which man Isabella will end up with, so it's just a matter of waiting until she comes to her senses and picks the right guy. Unfortunately, it's a tedious wait as Isabella is pretty much a dull and passive heroine who is led and shoved around for the entire story apart from the last chapter where she has to make a decision about which man she wants to marry. The poor young woman has self-esteem issues, true, but she is so content to be led around that I just have to wonder whether poor Isabella has fallen down and hit her head too hard once upon a time. Isabella doesn't seem like a character as much as she is a plot contrivance for the author to keep the story going for as long as possible. Meanwhile, Randall is a boring one-dimensional villain while Derrick is just as boring as this playboy hero archetype.
The problem with Two Grooms And A Wedding, I feel, is that the author is forcing her characters to behave in contrived ways that no ordinary folks would do just to keep the story going. As a result, this romantic comedy feels forced rather than funny.
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