by Karen L King, historical (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7414-X
Karen L King's latest historical Regency romance The Wedding Affair is a sensible Big Misunderstanding story, sensible in that the characters really have a pretty decent excuse to misjudge each other. Unfortunately, too many subplots serve to distract rather than to enhance the main romance.
Felicity Merriweather, now a widow with a son named Charles, and Major Anthony Sheridan have a history together. The kid is actually Tony's. They had an affair and they were planning to have a great life together and all, until he was called to serve in the war. When she realized that she was with child, she wrote a letter to Tony. Alas, Tony was wounded and his blood stains smudged the more important parts of the letter. Thinking she was writing to ask his permission to join him in Spain, he told her no (was she crazy - there was a war going on in Spain!) and asked her to stay put in England. She thought his curt refusal after she has told him about her condition meant that he was just using her for good times, so she went and marry a tradesman to save her reputation and ensure her child's acceptance by Society. You can guess what he thinks of what he views as her betrayal of their true love and all.
Felicity is a strong and level-headed heroine who has been taking care of the hubby's business dealings since his death, and she's doing it very well too. Tony, well, he's the usual sort who, instead of romancing the lady, acts like an arrogant twit with a huge entitlement chip on his shoulder when he learns of the truth between her and he. What happened to courtship? Demanding that she marry him won't do at all. That boy, Charles, though, is a horrible monster who speaks in ways best suited for an adult midget.
Most unfortunate though is the author's adding in what seems like a zillion distractions to her story. For one, Tony is investigating the suicide of his friend. This leads to trigger-happy armed men shooting on everybody. Another man is trying to court Felicity. Felicity's ward is pulling a Sommersby act on everybody. Felicity's parents decide to move in. Tony and his friends also decide to move in. Oh, and Charles wants a doggy. There are so many things happening that soon Felicity and Tony seems to be just one of the many episodes taking place simultaneously across the pages. Instead of concentrating on those two rebuilding trust and rediscovering love, Ms King instead has Felicity doing the same old whine that she doesn't want to marry ever but she decides to have an affair with Tony instead - gee, where have I read that one before? - in a truly unexciting epiphany interrupted by pages and pages and pages of subplots and countersubplots.
By jamming in too many external conflicts and neglecting the internal conflict when it should be the other way around, the author inadvertently makes The Wedding Affair a less satisfying read than it should have been.
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