On the Way to the Wedding
To celebrate the arrival of Netflix’s Bridgerton, AAR is running, in reading order, our reviews of the original nine books in the series.
(originally published on June 25, 2006)
On the Way to the Wedding, the final entry in Julia Quinn’s popular Bridgerton series, started off with a great attention-grabbing scene and settled in to an enjoyable, solid B read. But something went terribly wrong on the way to the ending.
Gregory Bridgerton has always believed in love, has always known that he would fall in love and marry and be happy – how could he not, with the examples of his seven brothers and sisters before him? He has waited his entire life to fall in love and been pretty aimless in the meantime. It is as if he put his life on hold until this great, cataclysmic event occurs before settling into a profession and a calling. Arriving late to a house party at his brother Anthony’s country home, he sees the back of a woman’s neck across the proverbial crowded room and it happens. This is it. He knows it. He is in love.
The object of his affection is Hermione Watson. Unfortunately, she is also the object of every man’s affection. She is stunningly beautiful and leaves dazed and slack-jawed men in her wake. She is also in love with someone else and treats every other man with a distant politeness. Her best friend is Lady Lucinda Abernathy, also a very beautiful woman, though any woman standing next to Hermione would be put in the shade. Lucy is used to seeing men make fools of themselves over Hermione and she is ready to write Gregory off as just another supplicant, but he seems different somehow, more sincere in his admiration of Hermione than the rest. Hermione is in love with her father’s secretary, and, believing that Hermione is merely infatuated and knowing how completely unsuitable and impossible such an alliance is, Lucy determines to help Gregory win Hermione.
Lucy is almost engaged to the son of an earl. Their families have had an understanding for years and have just been waiting for Lucy to grow up before making it official, something that she expects to happen very soon now that she is about to embark on her first Season. Lord Haselby is nice enough and Lucy is willing enough. She doesn’t consider herself to be romantic, never expected to fall in love, and so has always accepted her fate without demur.
As Lucy and Gregory get to know each other during the house party, they become friends. Gregory genuinely likes Lucy; she’s friendly, honest, open, and comfortable to be with. Talking with her is like being with his sisters – but not quite. Lucy likes things to be neat and orderly. She fixes things, fixes people – makes sure everything is tidy. She’s one of those people who cannot go to sleep at night until she’s made sure her shoes are all lined up properly. The gradual change in her feelings for Gregory is not at all neat and tidy and is guaranteed to unravel the neat edges of her life if she allows it.
Lucy and Gregory are both extremely likable people; smart, funny, nice, and charming. Their developing friendship is well done, their dialogue – something at which Julia Quinn excels – is witty and snappy, and you can easily track and accept their gradual journey to love. But Lucy and Gregory are now both wary of their new feelings; after the violence of his infatuation with Hermione, can either of them trust that their feelings are genuine? What of Lucy’s engagement to Lord Haselby? And, after so much of his life spent waiting for events to happen, does Gregory now have the courage to actively pursue his own destiny?
As I said, this was a solid B read for me, an enjoyable, comfortable read until the last quarter or so of the book. Then, it suddenly turned into a Romantic Suspense plot. In the last 50 pages, there are kidnappings, and treason, and gunplay – oh my! It just didn’t fit in with the atmosphere and tone that had been established throughout the novel.
But even worse, to my mind, is that Lucy and Gregory’s HEA is entirely dependent upon a huge historical inaccuracy. I can’t even tell you what it is, for it happens in the last chapter and as such would be beyond Spoiler Territory. Suffice it to say that it completely stopped me in my tracks, and left me stunned. Julia Quinn has been writing in this era for a long time; she should know this. And if she didn’t, it only makes sense that if the HEA hinges on this plot development, to do some research on the subject, see just what is entailed in it, if it is even a viable solution. As it is, it’s just completely wrong, and it’s sloppy and it’s lazy, which just makes me nuts.
I have a low tolerance for historical inaccuracy in this period, but you may not be aware of this gaff – or even bothered by it. If that’s the case, you will certainly enjoy On the Way to the Wedding. A couple of my AAR colleagues were unaware of it and so didn’t have the same reaction that I did to that event. I’m a big fan of Quinn’s and the Bridgertons and enjoyed much of On the Way to the Wedding. I just wish the ending was as good as the rest of the book.