A Valentine Wedding
There are few things more frustrating than a book that promises to be wonderful and ends up being average. Such books lure the reader with the promise of an intriguing story, magnetic characters, and a fast paced plot, then dwindle into predictable mediocrity. Such is the case with Jane Feather’s newest release A Valentine Wedding.
When Lady Emma Beaumont’s brother Ned dies, he leaves her a fortune, giving her an independence which few young ladies can boast. There’s only one catch – her beloved brother named Lord Alasdair Chase as trustee of that fortune. Society has not forgotten that Emma practically left Alasdair at the altar three years ago. Emma has not forgotten how Alasdair betrayed her, nor has she forgotten the love and passion they once shared.
It is out of loyalty to his deceased friend that Alasdair agrees to manage Emma’s finances, but it is his desire to bring Ned’s killer to justice that drives him to put aside his bitterness toward the woman who still inflames his blood. Somewhere in her possession, Emma has a detailed account of Wellington’s battle plans that Napoleon’s sympathizers would kill to own. Alasdair must find the letter and protect Emma at the same time.
Both Emma and Alasdair begin the book as interesting, strong characters. In a fit of temper, Emma informs the arrogant lord that she will have both a lover and a husband by Valentine’s Day and then he will be out of her life for good! This fiery exchange between them is witty and laced with emotion, but once the source of the rift between them is revealed, it somehow seems lacking. Emma’s hurt is understandable, but Alasdair’s reactions are not. Emma’s reasons for jilting him are glaringly apparent, yet he doesn’t understand why it happened. Suddenly, Alasdair loses much of his appeal as a hero.
Alasdair decides quite early in the book that he wants Emma as his wife and quickly sets that plan in motion while trying to protect her from danger. He does a very poor job of it as he comes face to face with the enemy on several occasions and isn’t even the least bit suspicious of a man who reveals his entire life story to him on their first meeting. Nor does he seem to think it odd that this man, who passes himself off as a French immigrant, is pursuing the one heiress in London who has Wellington’s battle plans!
A Valentine Wedding almost reads as if Feather began the book with great gusto and then got tired of the plot. Emma goes from strong to spineless. Alasdair sinks from compelling to cad, and the entire plot drifts from scintillating to simpering with remarkable ease. The last half of the book becomes a study in predictability. Even when Alasdair redeems himself in the end, it is done in an all too convenient manner. The source of the conflict between Emma and Alasdair is not the kind of thing that just goes away, yet Feather seems to sweep it under the rug.
All in all, A Valentine Wedding is not a bad book, but it should have been so much better. Since I have enjoyed Feather’s books in the past, I can only hope that this is not the beginning of a pattern.