The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

There is nothing more disappointing than a book that has two engaging leads and a promising setup that completely botches the ending.

I think the problem is that Ms. Alexander failed to set up a decent conflict between the two characters earlier in the book, and by conflict, I mean a believable reason these two wouldn’t marry and live happily ever after. Conflict does not equal a series of plot points that get thrown at our leads in order to complicate their lives. First there was the distant cousin that led to the faux engagement, then it was his fiance, then it was her fiancee, and then for some reason, there was this ridiculous public proposal where the hero, despite knowing Teddy’s plans all along, wants her to give up her plans.

I was reading those final pages thinking what the hell am I reading because this Jack isn’t someone I’ve met in the previous 200 or so pages. My Jack was a stodgy banker learning to give in to his more impulsive side. And yes, travel seemed to be part of it but it wasn’t until he made his grand plan (and demand that Teddy drop her life and accompany him) that it was clear he wanted to do it as a lifestyle. I kept reading that final confrontation thinking he wasn’t serious–he was playing some sort of joke or had some sort of plan that gave them both what they wanted.

And to have Teddy trying to be self-reliant (which is a lovely idea) only to have to her realize it in six months off page and chase down the hero? Let me get this straight. She lets him go to fulfill her dreams, and then manages it in five minutes? And then gives it up anyway? What the hell am I even reading right now?

Honestly. There was no need for all this crazy plot points and for this particular major character conflict to only show up in th last five pages. Have them wrestling over this for some time — have Jack’s father plan a grand expedition, that Jack wants to go on, but is torn because he really does love Teddy and doesn’t want to leave her. Have that be the heart of your book — not this parade of engagements and significant others. Insanity.

And it’s so annoying because I was so enjoying Jack and Teddy. Oy.

Genre: Victorian England

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