Desert Isle Keeper
The Accidental Wedding
Maddy Woodford is the Regency version of the woman who does too much. She cares for her orphaned half-siblings as if they were her own children, she keeps her modest house spotlessly tidy, and she helps the needy in her community. But Maddy doesn’t dream of having it all—she’s given up on finding a husband. She doesn’t have the time for courtship, and who would willingly take in an impoverished family of six, anyhow?
Then life in the Woodford household takes an unexpected and exciting turn. The mischievous Woodford boys’ mud slide claims its first unwitting victim – nobleman Nash Renfrew, who falls off his horse thanks to the slippery mess. Fearing the worst, Maddy rushes out to help the fallen rider, hauling him into her tiny cottage in a wheelbarrow. He’s badly injured, and the only place both large and soft enough to lay him out is her bed, and the doctor insists that he shouldn’t be moved until he is healed. This leaves our modest, caring heroine with a strapping young man in her cottage—a recipe for gossip if there ever was one, injury or no injury.
Since the mystery man is unconscious and the cottage is terribly cold, Maddy climbs into bed with him, strategically placing a quilt between them for propriety. When she awakens, she finds herself in his arms, a sensation that she has never experienced. Due to a head injury, Nash can’t remember who he is, where he is, or where he was going—and he certainly has no idea who the lovely woman in his arms is.
Maddy and the children quickly grow attached to Nash, who has a way with the children, making them feel special and unique. Likewise, Nash grows fond of the children and begins to fall in love with Maddy. But as he heals, Nash begins to remember his past, and he believes that revealing the truth about his identity to Maddy means losing her forever. Nash also fears for Maddy’s safety, since someone has been lurking around the cottage at night, and the attacks are quickly growing violent and destructive.
All of the characters have a backstory that is revealed slowly, adding dimension and depth. Maddy, for example, is forever scarred by her parents’ difficult marriage, but her years living with her beloved grandmere in France taught her about the importance of passion and romance. When Maddy’s father died, his elderly neighbor wanted to marry her, but she refused. Nash was an ambassador to St. Petersburg with a nosy, slightly overbearing aunt and a very strict list of requirements for a wife—a list that does not include love or passion. Even the children have their own distinctive personalities. They aren’t just random insertions into the story to ensure that the reader knows that Maddy is a gentle and nurturing woman.
There’s a lot to love about this book, but what I appreciate the most about The Accidental Wedding is the way that Gracie takes conventions of the romance novel that have been done to death—amnesia, injured hero, heroine who does too much—and turns them into a story that is fresh and new and interesting. That takes talent. And this, plus two charming main characters, a suspenseful subplot, and some delightful love scenes, makes for a near-perfect read. I plan to delve into Anne Gracie’s backlist, and she’ll definitely have a spot on my auto-buy list.