The Wedding Party
I chose to read The Wedding Party based on the good grades given to her last two books, Deep in the Valley and The House on Olive Street. Both of them were given B+ grades by other AAR reviewers, and I hoped that I would agree with their high opinions of Robyn Carr. I’m very pleased to report that I did – this was a very enjoyable read.
Charlene Dugan, family lawyer extraordinaire, is very much in control of her life. And then one day. . .she isn’t. On one spring day, April 1st, everything seems to fall apart. Her daughter Stephanie tells her she doesn’t want to turn out like her – overworked and alone – her ex-husband Jake asks if she’s gained weight, she has a flat tire, and her 78 year-old mother gets lost in her local grocery store. In a moment of sheer panic, she proposes marriage to her long-time boyfriend, Dennis, and he accepts. They’ve been dating for five years and have always been content with living rather parallel lives, but Charlene suddenly sees herself as alone and vulnerable, and so she does something rash: she gets engaged.
But immediately after the engagement is announced, things start to further unravel. Stephanie breaks up with her live-in boyfriend. Her mother begins acting even more erratic, and puts herself in danger, and Jake asks her to take on a difficult pro bono case for a single mother he knows who’s being harassed for custody by her ex-husband. All of this conspires to keep Charlene from spending time with Dennis and throws her even more in the company of Jake who’s made it clear that he is still interested in her. She, of course, knows that Dennis is everything she’s ever wanted: he’s attractive, gentlemanly, reliable, and steady. And Jake is everything she’s never wanted: he’s a hot-headed cop who’s hyperactive, disorganized, and passionate. Very passionate. And very wrong for her. So how come she can’t keep Jake at arm’s length? She’s really going to have to do something about that before the wedding. . . .
The book is more of a study of interacting family members than it is a romance, although it has several romantic plotlines. If I had to compare it to anyone else’s style, I would say it reads something like a Kathleen Gilles Seidel book with its emphasis on explaining where the characters are coming from psychologically and how they interact based on their different temperaments and backgrounds. Since I love Seidel’s books, this is quite a compliment. I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this book, and in particular, Charlene and Jake. They really like each other, but they also know exactly which buttons to push to get things cooking between them again. This was fun to watch. Also, for those readers who are always looking for a more mature heroine, Charlene is a great one. She’s 45, completely in charge of her life and full of self-respect. I think you’ll like her as well as I did.
The book has a number of realistic touches that made it seem especially authentic. At one point Charlene, after a particularly nasty arbitration with a divorcing couple, escapes into the bathroom to splash her face and unfasten her bra. I’ve definitely been there. And there’s a scene where Stephanie’s boyfriend Grant upbraids her for her careless attitude towards cleanliness. He’s just come home and noticed that she has completely undone the mid-day apartment cleaning he did. Their conversation was so authentic, his frustration with her was so familiar, that I wondered if my house had been bugged. I read this scene to my husband. I was very amused. He was less so.
The Wedding Party came very close to being Desert Isle Keeper. Had it been a trifle more romantic, or had one of the sub-plots had been eliminated in favor of more time for the main couple, it likely would have ended up on my keeper shelf. Even so, it was a very good read. The characters were quite likable and were very realistic in their dealings with each other. I’ve already put Carr’s last two books on hold at my library, so that tells you something of how much I enjoyed this one. I think Robyn Carr is an author to watch. I will look forward to reading her backlist and any future offerings.