All Through The Night

As You Desire

The Bridal Season

A Dangerous Man

My Dearest Enemy

McClairen's Isle:
The Passionate One

McClairen's Isle:
The Ravishing One

McClairen's Isle:
The Reckless One

My Scottish Summer

 
Bridal Favors by Connie Brockway
(Dell, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-440-23674-6
****
Evelyn Cummings Whyte is arranging her older sisterís society debut when she is a mere 15 years old herself. Her house full of guests and unable to sleep, she makes her way to the kitchen for a class of milk. This is when she spies Justin Powell leaving the bedroom of one Mrs. Underhill. Why the masher! Justin obviously wants to keep his movements secret, and Evelyn not wanting to ruin her sisterís debut, agrees to keep mum. In exchange, she gets an I.O.U.

Fast forward ten years and Evelyn is in a serious bind. When her Aunt Agatha elopes, Evelyn takes it upon herself to run the family business in her absence - Whyteís Weddings. Unfortunately, the poor girl has finally found something she is not good at. After years of running her own familyís affairs it appears she is a disaster as a wedding planner. Unwilling to accept that she just may not be good at something, Evelyn decides to call in Justinís marker. Seems her latest client, a wealthy American, wants to be married at North Cross Abbey - which has been in Justinís family for years.

Justin has his own fish to fry. Heís been a busy boy since he first met Evie ten years ago - playing the fool when in actuality he is a spy for the Crown. His superiors have just given him a new assignment, awaiting a shipment that contains a secret new military device stolen from a foreign adversary. Justinís mission is to await its arrival, notify the necessary scientist, then dispose of it. Evieís favor actually gives him the perfect cover - the Abbey in disrepair, there will be dozens of crates arriving daily. His top-secret shipment will blend in beautiful, and all the while he will continue to play the unaffecting nobleman with a penchant for bird watching.

Oh, if it were only that simple. For one thing, Evie has grown into a fine young woman, even if she is ignorant of her own charms. Justin is soon distracted, and with a myriad of eccentric secondary characters the game is soon spinning out of control.

What a charming read! Brockwayís breezy writing style, Victorian wit, and truly delightful cast of characters make her second Bridal book a quick, cozy read.

Evelyn has made it her mission in life to make everyone elseís life run smoother. Thinking she herself is no prize catch, she compensates with her organizational skills. After all, is there anything more pathetic than a useless spinster? She is resourceful, intelligent, and a bit addled by Justinís banter, wit and charm.

Justin is, in a word, wonderful. After reading several books featuring chest-thumping alpha heroes, Justin is the perfect antidote. Always a bit on the rumbled side, his self-effacing charm and witty repartee are just the thing to keep our determined heroine on her toes. I wanted to reach through the pages and take him home to meet Mom.

The secondary characters are all amusing additions - including a surly butler, a saucy French seamstress, and a perplexed would-be suitor. By the close of the last chapter I found that I had literally fallen a little in love with every one of Brockwayís creations - which ultimately leads me to my only minor quibble with the story - I wanted a little more finality to the story regarding this secondary cast. Some of them seemed to have been left hanging, although they would make fine additions to future Bridal books (hint, hint).

Bridal Favors is just the ticket for readers looking for a light and sassy read. With a well-drawn Victorian atmosphere, amusing characters, and a fine romance, Brockway has written another winner.

--Wendy Crutcher


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