Her Secret Affair

Once Upon a Scandal

One Wild Night

Tempt Me Twice

Too Wicked to Love

With All My Heart

The Wedding Night
by Barbara Dawson Smith
(St. Martin‘s, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-312-98230-5
The Wedding Night takes place in London in 1820. Lady Cassandra, daughter of the Duke of Chiltern, was married four years earlier to Samuel Firth who left on their wedding night for a long journey around the world before consummating their marriage. Cassie never saw him again, until now…

Although Cassie had only been 16 at the time of the marriage, it had been very difficult on her and she harbors a strong hatred for her supposed husband. She even goes so far as to use him as the model for Percival Cranditch, the evil pirate character in The Black Swan, the book she wrote that is soon to be published under a pen name. Cassie’s dream is to be free from the burden of marriage with an absent husband and live in a small cottage by herself where she can make a decent living writing stories and having them published. She asks her solicitor to prepare a Deed of Separation for Samuel to sign so she can begin the life she dreams of.

When Samuel receives the Deed of Separation, he comes back to his wife to try to repair his marriage. He gives Cassie the excuse that he left to oversee his holdings in other countries and thought he would give her time to grow up before he tried to consummate their marriage again. Cassie was so young on her wedding night, and she had been horrified to find out what they were supposed to do as man and wife. Why Samuel never explained to her his reasons for leaving before this point is a mystery that is never explained to my satisfaction. If he had always planned to come back and make his marriage work, why did he not correspond with Cassie at any time during his travels?

The author does a great job of redeeming Samuel and turning him into a real hero by the end of the story, despite the fact that several points that make him a dreadful husband in the beginning were never explained. There are a couple of mysteries to be solved that bring Cassie and Samuel into close contact, both involving the attempted murder of the main characters. The romance is pleasant. When Samuel first comes back to London, he is immediately attracted to Cassie although he doesn’t know who she is at first, since she has grown up so much since last they saw each other. Cassie also finds herself attracted to Samuel, despite her intense hatred for him. It was interesting to see the two of them try to deny their attractions, which became harder and harder as time went on.

Samuel has another hardship to overcome. He is the illegitimate child of a father who never acknowledged him before he died. Once Samuel’s family (grandmother and half-brothers) discovered his existence, they tried to welcome him into their family. But he harbors so much hatred for his father that his hatred extends to this family as well. During Samuel’s absence, however, Cassie grows to love his grandmother and half-brothers and goes so far as to move into their house. Cassie had become so lonely in Samuel’s big house with no one but servants for company. Part of the story involves Cassie trying to convince Samuel that his family truly loves him and wants him for no other reason than just because he exists.

Overall, The Wedding Night is an enjoyable read. The cast of characters keeps the reader interested throughout and the intriguing mysteries work to bring the hero and heroine close so their romance can develop. This is a good book to take to the park or beach while enjoying the warm summer weather.

--Tracy Merritt

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