The title: Bridal Favors
The author: Connie Brockway
Publication: Dell, 2002
Got it from: Amazon
Can I just gush for a minute about how much I love this book?
Normally I wouldn't read anything to do with weddings, but from everything I'd heard, Connie Brockway was at the top of everyone's funny romance radar. Lucky me, it barely had anything to do with weddings AND it was even funnier than I'd expected.
Evelyn Whyte is a diminutive little woman in the Victorian era who thinks she's unattractive and wears glasses because they add to her bookish image. One day when she's fifteen, she happens to see one Justin Powell coming out of a married lady's boudoir and *thinks* he's having an affair. Justin bribes her with an I.O.U. to keep mum.
Fast-forward ten years later. The book opens with Evelyn having unceremoniously crashed through Justin's window and is lying bleeding on the floor. The laughs in the first two chapters are in the deadly two-per-page area, so be warned not to drink anything too fast while you're reading. It seems Evelyn needs to cash in on her I.O.U. She's inherited her aunt's wedding planning business and she's crap at it. Her last chance to redeem herself is to secure Justin's family estate for her client.
The dialogue between Justin and Evelyn when they first meet is a hoot. Justin is one of the most likeable romance heroes I've ever read, and the way he is completely unperturbed by a woman crashing through his window is a scream. "A lift is the least I can offer you for having such shoddy, easily broken windows," he says in all seriousness after he bandages her up.
Naturally, Justin agrees to have the wedding party at his estate. Because of course the reader has surmised by this point that Justin is of course not a rake, but a spy for England. Ah, the fake rake. I forgot to mention it in my list of favourite romance plots, so I'm doing it now. Naturally, Justin's working undercover so he hangs around the estate pretending to be a bird watcher. A handy cover for a spying on enemy agents and sexy young women.
I don't want to give too much away, but suffice to say there's some priceless scenes with a bumbling German trying to court Evelyn with Justin continually interrupting. I also really don't want to spoil the ending, but all I'll say is that you can expect nothing but total disaster at a fancy Victorian society wedding, of course.
The good news, for me at least, is that Brockway's As You Desire is supposed to be even more funny. Naturally, I've got a copy ordered and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. If you're a fan of Elizabeth Peters but want a little bit more romance, I'd recommend you run, not walk to Connie Brockway.