Sunday, September 03, 2006

Title: Bridal Favors
Author: Connie Brockway
Published: 2002, Dell
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 8/10

I picked this book up because Rosario has it listed on her sidebar as one of her Best of the Best. And as she seems to have generally very similar book preferences to my own, I thought I'd try it out. And I'm so glad I did.

I didn't give it a perfect score like Rosario did, but I did think it a lovely, delightful book and I might well consider bumping that up on future rereading. It's a book that will become a friend worthy of revisiting. It kept me up very late on Friday night, which is really saying something as I usually act like an 80-year-old woman on Fridays. I don't get enough sleep during the week, so by Friday I'm worn out and I usually fall asleep on the couch around 9:00. It's sad, but true. Takes massive amounts of caffeine or alcohol to keep me alive.

So, Bridal Favors. Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of Evelyn Cummings Whyte and Justin Powell. The two first meet when Evie is 15. She catches Justin emerging from a married woman's room at dawn, and draws the natural conclusions. Justin asks her not to tell anyone and gives her an IOU for future services if she keeps mum. Ten years later, Evie decides to cash in on the IOU. She has taken over her aunt's wedding planning company and needs to use Justin's ancestral home for a fancy society wedding. Justin agrees to let Evie use the house, as it will serve as an excellent cover for one of his espionage missions. Did I mention Justin is a spy? So Justin and Evie end up staying together for a month in the country while she manages the wedding and Justin does his spying thing.

This book is the opposite of the dark, brooding, dramatic romance. I think it's really a comedy more than anything else. From the very beginning I was laughing. When Evie catches Justin emerging at dawn from the married lady's room:
He stood staring down at her a second before raking his hand through his hair. "What the devil am I--Damnation!"
"Probably," Evelyn agreed.
He glanced down, clearly startled.
"Oh," she said caustically, "your comment was rhetorical rather than prophetic."
The characters are delightful. Justin is actually an important spy, but he disguises this fact behind the facade of an idle, useless gentleman. He endures the ridicule and disappointment of his family to be successful in espionage, which is very admirable. Evie is the plain, resourceful type, very confident in her abilities, but also self-conscious about her looks. But there's very little "Oh, poor me" about her, thank goodness. I love this:
But she didn't want to catch a husband. Because, as much as she was realistic about her looks, she was equally realistic about the good qualities that she did own. She was proud of her accomplishments, and she would not marry a man who didn't appreciate them, too.
At the beginning I thought that the spy subplot was really confusing and kind of lame, but it got much better toward the end.

This is my first Brockway, but I'll definitely have to get some more. Apparently she has her first contemporary coming out this winter.


Marg said...

Sounds good!!

Rosario said...

I'm so glad you liked it! Now you need to read The Bridal Season. It's related to this one (actually comes before it), and it's just as witty and charming and wonderful. I gave it an A, IIRC.

Mailyn said...

Oh, this sounds very good. I LOVE spies! I'm adding this to the TBR.

ames said...

I hate spies-but I'm still interested in it because you did recommend it to me. LOL

Jennie said...

I like spies too. But don't worry, Ames, the spy plot isn't all that big a part of the book. :) You should still read it.

Estelle said...

If you liked this book waith until you try As You Desire.

I think it's the best book Brockway has ever written. It's a favourite with a lot of people but apparently it didn't sell well.

Perhaps 1890s Egypt dissuaded some readers? Or maybe it was the truly awful back blurb?

In any case, this is one the best romance books written in the past 20 years.

A perfect blen of humor and great romance.