A Wedding One Christmas
If I had to use one word to describe A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie it would be ‘heartfelt’. Set in South Africa, it’s the sweet and introspective tale of two people who meet by fate or happenstance one day a few weeks before Christmas. It’s a day that will change both their lives for the better.
Angie Roux is returning to Cape Town after being away from home teaching in Korea for the last three years. She’d left abruptly after her father died, unable to deal with the grief and the burden of responsibilities expected of her. On a whim, she stops at Caledon, where she was born, and where some of her happy memories abide. There’s a roadside café and chapel and she soon finds herself swept up in a wedding celebration where she constantly gets mistaken for a bridesmaid due to her similar outfit. Seeking refuge from the exuberant crowd, she finds a gentleman seated alone in the café and plonks herself down with him to recoup.
Ezra Johnson is hiding out from the wedding, though his circumstances are a little different than Angie’s. In fact, he’s an invited guest, the couple tying the knot being former students of his. He’s a lecturer in women’s studies, returning to his childhood home of Cape Town to take up a new position. But Ezra has an aversion to weddings, having been turned-down by his girlfriend when he proposed several months earlier. He’s not even sure why he showed up. As Ezra and Angie get to know each other, they also end up participating in some of the more fun events of the day, at one point having to pretend they’re in a relationship, too. When the day is over, will Ezra and Angie go their separate ways, or find themselves willing to see what their futures might hold together?
There’s a lot going on in this one day! Caledon is having its Christmas parade, so some of the story involves Angie and Ezra getting involved with the floats and the parade in between wedding festivities. There are several laugh-out-loud moments of dialogue between Ezra and Angie, and this story has equal amounts of conversation between the main characters as there are moments of self-reflection and analysis. This can make it seem a bit slow at times, so I think it’s one of those novels where you have to be in the mood for the kind of soul searching and discussion that goes on.
Angie and Ezra have both avoided home for reasons that they are willing to share with each other. Sometimes it is easier to open up to complete strangers knowing they won’t judge you, and they take advantage of this opportunity. Angie’s mother always needed the extra emotional care that her husband (Angie’s father) provided, leaving Angie to raise her younger sisters. When her father died, Angie couldn’t cope with having to take care of her mother too. But it’s time for her to come to terms with her father’s death and find a way to rekindle the relationships with the family she left behind. Ezra knew that his family didn’t approve of his girlfriend, yet he still chose her and moved away. Then when she rejected his marriage offer he was ashamed to return home. He also knows it’s time to face his family again, and together he and Angie find that unburdening themselves gives them the strength to face the future.
The attraction between them starts from their first eye contact and doesn’t let up over the course of the day. It eventually leads to some heavy kisses and ‘second base’ contact. By the evening, things have progressed far enough for them to start thinking about whether what they are experiencing is a sweet but isolated event or something they should pursue. No worries, there’s a happy ending to this story, complete with a lovely epilogue. One thing I did notice is that while both characters are black (the paragraph where Ezra is introduced says “Smooth brown skin stretched over the angular features of his face.”), the cover shows a black female and a white male, and I’m surprised that a black couple was not featured on the cover. Nevertheless, A Wedding One Christmas is an appealing romance with a unique setting and characters who find joy and purpose in an unexpected encounter.