Desert Isle Keeper
The Wedding Party
Any Jasmine Guillory novel is guaranteed to be a good time. The Wedding Party is another slice in that tradition; romantic, funny, sweet and easy to relate to, it’s a breezy read that will be like catnip for anyone who likes a good enemies-to-lovers story.
No two ways about it – personal stylist Maddie Forest and mayoral press secretary Theo Stephens loathe one another. Maddie, outspoken yet homebodyish, can’t stand his snobbishness, the way he looks down on her job and past experiences. Nerdy, sometimes-smug and opinionated Theo can’t take what he interprets as Maddie’s celebrity-obsessed shallowness seriously. But they have one person near and dear to them in common – Alexa (last seen in The Wedding Date), who is their shared best friend and is about to be married. Theo and Maddie are naturally part of the wedding party which means – for better or for worse – the two of them have months of events, dinners and parties to deal with in tandem.
There’s one very big reason Theo and Maddie don’t get along. On the same night Alexa met her Mister Right, Theo and Maddie also had a one night stand they immediately regarded as a huge mistake. And have continued to make that mistake repeatedly since that night, in multiple beds and on multiple surfaces whenever they’ve met again. Vowing never to tell Alexa about their peccadilloes, the more time they spend together, the harder it is to suppress the truth and the sparks flying between them. They try to limit the course of the affair, deciding to conclude it when the wedding is over. But then Alexa moves the date up when she scores her dream venue, leaving Maddie and Theo with only months to continue hooking up. They should be thrilled, shouldn’t they? But a violent act changes everything, making them reconsider the strength of their bond and their own happily ever after.
The Wedding Party is charming in a perfectly relentless way, an incredibly human one. Maddie and Theo are flawed people who act like real human beings – stubborn, loving, soft, giving and tough and stubborn as two cats dueling over a piece of tuna.
I liked the way they eventually came to friendship, then love – with lust, naturally, being the first emotion coupled with hate that faced them.
How much you love Theo and Maddie’s relationship will depend on how much you like love/hate tropery; the book has this in spades, and while normally these kinds of relationships don’t work for me, Guillory’s work sold it completely. Theo and Maddie never really deeply hate each other, and they do get to talk out the personality faults and insecurities that caused their negative impressions of each other. They’re ultimately very cute and very dorky together.
The supporting characters are great. Alexa is frantic, adorable and a good foil for both of her besties, and I loved Maddie’s relationship with her mom (who is slated to be the heroine of the next book in the series; hooray for older leads!). It’s always fun to settle down and enjoy time with Alexa and the rest of the folks in their friendship group. Everyone’s unified support of her and the way they act as a ballast against some of her mother’s negative viewpoints is absolutely touching.
The protagonists have interesting careers; Theo’s political life (where he works with Alexa) is fascinating and well-constructed, displaying careful research, while Maddie gets to make her dreams come true as her stylist job brings her into the world of the candid reality television she so admires. I admit I wanted more of that movement to be explored, but the research for this is also impeccable.
My only quibble about the whole book isn’t even a quibble – everyone’s baffling obsession with pizza throughout was both hilarious and also eyebrow-raising. I’ve lived this kind of situation within my own friendship group, where we love one thing and we will eat that thing for months, but in a fictional format I was waiting for the book-long reference to wrap up in everyone having steak or lobster or something!
The Wedding Party is adorable and easy to grab hold of. It’s not my favorite Guillory (that’d be The Proposal, followed by The Wedding Date in close second), but it’s a very, very close third, and still a fizzy champagne toast of a cocktail that never flattens out.