When I started Klondike Wedding, I thought I was in for a treat. I’ve enjoyed this author’s books before, and her tale of a marriage-by-proxy gone terribly wrong started off quite well. However, as unbelievable circumstances built up and an improbable suspense plot cluttered things up, I found myself unable to summon up much more than an average amount of enthusiasm for my reading.
The story opens with a surprisingly plausible wedding-by-proxy. Genevieve Summerville travels to the Klondike, seeking to escape dire straits in Montana by marrying a childhood acquaintance. However, as Genevieve’s fiance needs to work his claim – he’s got gold fever – he suggests a proxy wedding and the chance to set up housekeeping in his cabin while she awaits his return. Genevieve, encouraged by her uncle and a pushy aunt who seems to have studied at the feet of Jane Austen’s Mrs. Bennet, accepts this arrangement.
Canadian Mountie Luke Hunter, a veterinarian and friend of Genevieve’s fiance, agrees to act at the proxy groom. However, the judge conducting the ceremony is quite ill throughout the proceeding and it is not until afterwards that anyone notices that the wedding documents contain Luke’s name rather than that of the man for whom he stood as proxy. To make matters worse, Genevieve, Luke, and the small group of wedding guests all find themselves quarantined due to the illness among them.
Forced to live in close quarters, Genevieve and Luke start to get to know one another and to like what they discover. Though there is initial friction between them, they have common interests. An affectionate friendship soon grows and, as time goes on, deepens into much more serious feelings. However, things are complicated by their conflicted loyalties to Genevieve’s actual fiance. While they initially choose to do the honorable thing, this grows more difficult with each passing day.
While the set-up of this tale is more contrived than most I favor, I actually rather like the main plot in this one. The characters have their less pleasant moments, but they are essentially likable, and, while I could understand their conflict, I kept rooting for them to get together. Unfortunately, some aspects of the backstory made this book one which did not really work for me.
First of all, while the quarantine itself did not sound so outrageous given the time and the circumstances, a suspense plot is quickly introduced into the quarantined group that felt unnecessary. The relationships between the various characters, the anxiety inherent in the quarantine, and the rigors of frontier life itself provide plenty of excitement without the intrusion of the mystery tale. Indeed, the suspense plot seemed to crowd out details which many readers would have found more necessary to the story – such as information about the hero and heroine’s pasts.
While Klondike Wedding does have some fun and downright touching moments, it was ultimately only a touch above ordinary for me. While giving one a pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon or two, there are many better books out there – including The Surgeon and Klondike Doctor from this very author’s backlist.