Here Comes the Bride
Augusta Mudd is a successful business owner in the little town of Cottonwood, Texas in the first decade of the twentieth century. At thirty-one, Gussie is worried that she’s become a spinster. She’s been walking out with handsome widower Amos Dewey for three years now, but when she corners him and demands to know what his intentions are, he responds with obvious dismay. Gussie knows that she and Amos are well suited. The only thing to do is to make him realize that they’re perfect for each other.
A businesswoman, Gussie immediately frames the problem in terms of the laws of supply and demand: Amos doesn’t realize how valuable she is because he has no competition for her. So she enlists the aid of Rome Akers, an employee who handles the day-to-day running of Gussie’s company. She offers Rome a full partnership in the business, if he agrees to pretend to court her just long enough to get Amos to propose.
The truth is, I didn’t like this novel at all at first. I thought the characters were stiff and their dialogue was stilted. Gussie’s plan seemed stupid and obvious, and I foresaw no surprises in how it would turn out. Then a subplot involving sewage-treatment lagoons loomed. “Oh, boy,” I thought, “this is going to be almost as much fun as a city council meeting.”
Fortunately, Morsi’s trademark wit and charm soon kicked in. The characters got over their initial stiffness and, as they became inseparable friends, they also became people I cared about. Gussie has an excellent head for business, but beneath her briskness she’s shy, insecure, and unsure of herself. Rome is a marvelous character. He has moral qualms about the deception involved, but he wants to be a partner in Gussie’s business. As he grows to like and respect Gussie, he becomes even more determined to succeed in the deception, because he believes that Gussie is in love with Amos. He constantly strives for what he believes to be best for her, even when he obviously wants her for himself.
The nicest thing about this book is the way that Gussie and Rome become firm friends, working for a common goal, before they become lovers or even sweethearts. The plot has lots of twists and turns that surprised me and made me laugh out loud more than once. The book’s climax involves a kissing-booth scene that you simply have to read. I didn’t know that a public two-bits-a-kiss fundraising booth could be that funny or that sexy.
Morsi does an excellent job of capturing the deeply moral and religious flavor of turn-of-the-century American society. She achieves historical accuracy without ever getting preachy or making the town’s inhabitants seem like sober fuddy-duddies. Cottonwood is neither a sweet-as-maple-sugar little town, nor a hotbed of small-minded gossip, but somewhere in between. The cast of characters is rendered with a keen eye for detail and a delightful sense of how amusing everyday situations can be. Morsi even made the subplot about sewer lagoons interesting.
This book was fun and entertaining, but there are some things that could have been improved. As I mentioned, the beginning seemed very stilted and artificial to me. Morsi really didn’t need to tell me so much about the design of the sewage system, how a hand-crank ice-cream maker works, or the different types of razors used by the local barber. I’m sure all these details are historically accurate, but sometimes they seemed intrusive.
More seriously, there’s a secondary romance that starts out wonderfully but ends with a wet thud. I wanted to tap the kissing couple on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me, but you two don’t even know each other.” I don’t want to tell you who the two are, for fear of giving too much away. Suffice it to say that they’re both vivid, full-drawn characters, both at least as interesting as Gussie and Rome, and their ultimate pairing seemed extremely rushed. These two deserved better. I’d have read a whole book about them.
In spite of these things, the central story is romantic, entertaining, and surprising. Here Comes the Bride is a delicious romance, with a delightful setting and just enough twists and turns to keep readers glued to the pages.
|Review Date:||July 12, 2000|