The Unexpected Wedding Guest
This is the first entry in The Wedding Season series, a multiple-author continuity featuring four former college roommates 10 years later. The Unexpected Wedding Guest combines the second-chance at love, across the tracks, and opposites attract themes and held my interest. But while there’s a clear sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine, I found their love story less convincing.
Reese Michael is trying on her wedding dress days before her wedding when her ex-husband Mason Hicks shows up. Reese – known as a Park Avenue Princess – was in college when they met. In contrast to Reese’s privileged upbringing, Mason came from a poor family and was in the Marines. They married eight days after meeting without knowing a lot about each other except that the sex was great. Their marriage quickly crashed and burned, leaving Reese floundering for years.
Reese refuses to talk with Mason and doesn’t give him a chance to explain why he’s there. It turns out Mason doesn’t want to get Reese back (although he’s still incredibly attracted to her). He suffered a traumatic brain injury eight months earlier when a bomb exploded nearby leaving him with insomnia, crippling migraines, short-term memory damage, and no sex drive. His psychiatrist believes Mason has unresolved issues from his past that are crippling his recovery.
After Reese kicks him out, Mason runs into Reese’s fiancé, Dylan. Instead of fighting, the two talk briefly and end up playing a quick, physical basketball match. When Reese confronts the two Dylan tells her he wants to postpone the wedding until she can figure out her feelings toward Mason and himself. Money oozes out of the chapter describing the setting and plans for Reese’s wedding, and she’s now faced with cancelling the entire affair. Instead, Reese decides to keep the reception as an un-wedding party. Mason sticks around, volunteering to help with a variety of tasks.
This wasn’t a bad book, and it kept me entertained most of the time. But I have a few issues that keep me from giving it a higher grade. I had problems in a several places following the flow of the action, and had to reread multiple pages several times before things actually made sense.
I liked Mason from the time he first appeared and truly felt for him and his attempts to handle his short-term memory loss. But I have mixed feelings about Reese. For most of the book we learn about their marriage from Reese’s perspective. Mason was sent to Afghanistan soon after they married, and while Reese prepared for what she might face when he returned, it didn’t make the reality any easier. Once back Mason was cold, unreachable, and dark. He didn’t seem to care about their marriage and refused therapy. The final blow was when he reenlisted and told Reese he was going back to Afghanistan. I believed that Reese was heartbroken when Mason left, and felt sorry for her. But when late in the book we learn about Mason’s perceptions of their marriage I questioned everything I believed about Reese up to that point.
Reese’s former roommates – and the heroines of the rest of the series – make an appearance in this book. At least one – the mathematical wizard – seems to have potential as a heroine. But it’s difficult to know with a multiple-author continuity how she’ll be treated.
I’m completely convinced that thanks to therapy, Mason has changed and is ready to be more emotionally engaged. And I don’t doubt for a minute that the two have a strong sexual chemistry. But I find the love story a bit lacking and that Reese’s change was rather rushed. I would have appreciated a few more passages where the two talk to each other and show that they’re really in love, rather than just being told by the author.