Sarah Simpson and Nicholas Ross married on Friday, May 13, 1877 in Fort Worth, Texas, for all the wrong reasons. Sarah, a naïve virgin of 16, liked the idea of planning the grandest wedding Fort Worth had ever seen. Nick, 18 and homesick, longs for a family - oh and he is a tad horny. Needless to say, the wedding night is a disaster.
Soon after the above disaster, Nick gets word that his two older brothers have died, and the father who scorned him all his life, suddenly wants Nick to return to England. Sarah does not want to leave Texas, and while Sarah and Nick are arguing this fact, an irate father barges in with his pregnant daughter. Seems the pregnant daughter, Susan Harris, is claiming Nick is the daddy. Nick owes Susan some huge favor that is never made clear, and says that this is true. The day after her wedding, Sarah sees Nick and Susan boarding the train on their way to England.
Over the course of the next 11 years, Nick is a British spy working on the continent, and Sarah goes into business as a wedding planner in Texas. The couple never annulled their sham of a marriage, but have exchanged letters through the years and developed a rather comfortable friendship. That is, until the day Nick summons Sarah to England under the guise of planning his sister’s wedding. What will happen when she learns that her darling husband, now the Marquess of Weston, wants to finally secure an annulment so he can marry an English beauty that his sisters have dubbed “The Ice Queen?”
It does not bode well for a novel, when by chapter 3, I am taking notes on all the things that are annoying me. Let us begin with this business of the pregnant Susan Harris, shall we? After Nick claims to be the daddy, he asks Sarah to trust him and believe he is merely lying to protect Susan, but he offers no more explanation. Susan apparently came to the aid of Nick at some point in the past, but the reader is never privy to the specific details. Sarah is as much to blame, because over the 11-year span that she corresponds with Nick, she never once inquires about Miss Harris.
The wedding night fiasco is also quite unpleasant to read about. Even while I was chanting “time period” over and over in my mind, I couldn’t help but feel that Sarah’s naiveté dangerously bordered “too stupid to live” territory. The author does try to make the whole episode amusing, but the humor was completely lost on me. If you enjoy reading about two teenagers trying to figure out how to “do it” than you will probably have a few laughs. I came away feeling sad and embarrassed.
Nick is a problematic hero, because I never really got the feeling that a) he grew up or b) he really loved Sarah. He plans to marry “The Ice Queen” only because he feels it is time to settle down and have children of his own. When Sarah arrives on the scene, he realizes that he is still hot for his wife, and then goes about seducing her, mainly because she is quite a challenge. His less than pure motives did little to soften his image. He also fails to communicate with his wife, expecting her to have blind faith in a husband she does not know and has not seen in over a decade.
For a couple undergoing an annulment in late 19th century England, there is very little scandalous whispering going on. When it becomes common knowledge that Lord Weston has been married for a decade and is just now seeking an annulment, the ton is surprisingly forgiving. In addition, none of this scandal seems to have a dire effect on his three younger sisters, two of whom have yet to make their society debuts.
Along with the above problems, the book also suffers from a case of terminal seriesitis. The Bad Luck Wedding Night is connected to two earlier Bad Luck books, and strongly linked to Simmer All Night and Sizzle All Day. There are scads of secondary characters that I was at a loss for until I did some homework on the above titles, making the reading of this entry in the above series a bit trying for someone not in the know.
Adding to my sense of disappointment is that there are some really well done aspects of this story - including Nick’s delightfully mischievous sisters and some romantic seduction letters that Nick later composes to Sarah. Unfortunately, these promises were overshadowed by my general dislike with the rest of the story. Readers who have read and enjoyed the prior books will most likely find The Bad Luck Wedding Night a bigger treat than I did. If my perceptions are correct, the author plans to continue with more books involving Nick’s sisters and possibly Susan Harris. Someone stop the train, I want to get off.