The Wedding Date
The Wedding Date tells the story of a deep-seated connection and a building of trust between two people who don’t have a history of longevity in their relationships. Is this going to last? is a question they constantly grapple with.
Alexa Monroe is a lawyer and the Chief of Staff for the mayor of Berkeley, CA. When the story opens, she’s meeting her older sister at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco to celebrate her becoming the first black female partner at her law firm. With sparkling wine, fancy crackers, and brie stashed in her purse, Alexa heads on up in the elevator. Suddenly, the elevator comes to a standstill, and as she’s figuring out what to do, she becomes aware that she is not alone; she’s stuck in the dimly lit tiny space with a tall, white guy, who happens to be funny, very fit, and very hot. Suddenly the calamity is not as calamitous.
Dr. Drew Nichols is a pediatric surgeon from Los Angeles, who’s at the hotel for the wedding of his ex-girlfriend, Molly. He’s a no-commitments kinda guy who sleeps with the women he likes, but the minute things start to get emotional and/or serious, he bails with a friendly break-up speech. However, he no longer has the plus one he had when he RSVP’d for the wedding, and now, he’s in a panic that he’ll lose face among Molly’s friends and relatives, most of whom are somewhat hostile towards him.
Alexa and Drew have an instant connection with each other that has a modern, sexy vibe to it that fits them both like a second skin. They’re both intrigued by and attracted to each other, so when Drew asks on an impulse if she’ll go to the wedding with him, she decides not to overthink it, and says yes. And she doesn’t regret the decision, even though she has to pretend to be the girlfriend of a guy she’s just met. Their attraction culminates in a mutual night and day of passion and togetherness.
The best thing about this book is the way consent is handled. Even as the evening begins, Drew promises Alexa that he won’t do anything she doesn’t like. He continually checks in with her the first time they make love. “Tell me what you want.” “Do you want this?” This is so sexy for both of them: the anticipation, the questions, the unexpected answers. They both make each other feel special, and desired and accepted just as they are.
However, the wedding (and parties throughout the book) raise Alexa’s deep-rooted anxiety and self-consciousness about being curvy and short and not tall and thin like the other women she meets. Add in racist remarks from obnoxious men, and she feels her place in Drew’s life is tentative as best. But overriding all of this is the instant understanding they share, which manifests itself in a desire for each other’s company, and an ability to completely relax with one another, whether in company or alone, and a vibrant mutual sexual awareness.
But once the wedding weekend is over, they think they are done with each other. Imagine their surprise when they find themselves continuing to see each other every weekend by flying up and down the coast. Guillory has executed the tenor of a long-distance relationship very well, never breaking the connection between them through the ups and downs, arguments and makeups of a relationship.
There are a lot of intimate scenes in the book, but fortunately, the fade-to-black sex scenes, with some initial setup and post-coital bliss, are a plus so that there is novel real estate given over to developing a story without the sex taking over the narrative. And despite the paucity of details, the sexual tension fairly thrums throughout.
Given that Drew is a pediatric surgeon of some years and Alexa is Chief of Staff to a city mayor, they’re both well into their thirties. When you see them working – and it’s great to see those glimpses into their work – you sense that they’re dedicated professionals and good at their jobs. However, when they’re together or with their friends or in their thoughts, they behave like immature twenty-somethings. I guess their behavior adds to the sexy modern vibe of the book I mentioned above: young, carefree, commitment-free, partying, and so on. But over the course of the book, there is no individual growth arc wherein they mature in their outlook, even as their relationship becomes more emotionally intimate. This immaturity was difficult to reconcile with the degree of responsibility required by their jobs, and I could not match up these two halves of their personalities.
While the emotional connection and strong chemistry between the principals are the high points of this book, its low points drag it down. The horrible way Drew treats his supposed best friend left an unpleasant taste in my mouth – and speaking of tastes, I couldn’t help but wonder at the dietary choices made by characters, who surely should have known better, especially since Drew is a doctor. They exist on burgers, doughnuts, pizza, pastries, and so on with nary a salad or veggie in sight, and I was rather queasy by the end!
Ultimately, while the positives in this book were good, the negatives overwhelmed the narrative, and I cannot recommend The Wedding Date.