Title: The Wedding Journey
Author: Carla Kelly
Published: 2002, Signet
Category: Regency Romance
I got a few Carla Kelly books in my Christmas stash, including this one. These books are so sweet (without being at all sappy, which is quite a feat) that now whenever I'm feeling a little down, I reach for one.
Captain Jesse Randall is a surgeon attached to a corp of the British military stationed in Spain during the Napoleonic wars. He has been in love with Nell Mason for years, but has always been too shy and busy to do anything about it. Now Nell's good-for-nothing father has agreed to let a smarmy officer named Bones basically "have" her in exchange for voiding his gambling debts. Bones doesn't even say he'll marry her, and Jesse and Nell fear that Bones will just ruin her and then disappear. So Jesse decides to save Nell by marrying her himself. This makes quite an enemy of Bones, who then orders that the hospital be abandoned by the corp as they retreat. Jesse is left all alone, unprotected, with a bunch of sick men and his new bride, in the middle of war-torn Spain with the French bearing down on them.
What I love about Carla Kelly books are her lovely sensitive, intelligent characters. Shy Jesse who is so often second-guessing his medical decisions, working so hard to help his patients. It's quite a change from all the alpha males who dominate the romance genre. (Y'all know I like shy guys!)
My only complaint here is that it was just a tad gloomy for me. Not nearly as sad as Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, but lacking a lot of the humor that I've liked so much in some of Kelly's earlier books.