tl;dr: sweet and sexy chemistry overrides the few technical faults
When reading the title of a book, a reader generally has some expectations about what’s to follow. But when it comes to this book, toss them. I have no idea why the book is titled ‘The Wedding Date Bargain’. The wedding is a 3 page non-event, and I don’t even know where the bargain comes from.
This is the actual story: college friends Max and Sarah reconnect after 8 years, and then reconnect AGAIN one week later. Sarah has always had the hots for Max, and the feeling is mutual. She threw herself at him in college, but apparently he has a White Knight complex and refused to tarnish her virtue, so they spend 8 years mooning over the one that got away. When Sarah ends up working for his friend Sean’s chain of hotels, she AGAIN tries to seduce him and he AGAIN says he can’t be the guy to pop her cherry, because it would give her the wrong impression or something. But when Sarah agrees, and decides she’ll find someone else to fix her ‘problem’, Max goes 110% caveman and offers himself as tribute, because he can’t stand the idea of anyone else touching her.
This synopsis sounds was worse than the actual book, which, although a few of the plot strands were weird, was pretty sweet. Max and Sarah genuinely like each other, and it’s only because of a lot of kidding themselves they’re apart for so long. Max is worried about holding her back from her career and making her resent him, and Sarah is concerned because he has put up a front of being a total player with commitment problems. When Max decides he’ll be her first sexual experience, he doesn’t just jump into bed with her, he woos her for a couple of weeks, letting her know what he’s doing, and being very respectful of her nervousness.
There are a lot of other characters to keep track of, and it does get a little muddled at points. There’s a book prior to this one regarding two other characters who pop up now and again. Their relationship is alluded to with just enough detail to make sense, but not enough to be a block of exposition.
The plot timeline is a bit of a mess. Yes, it’s en vogue to start a story in medias res, but I really wish it could go away. So, the story goes present day, one week before, present day, and then there’s this hinting about 8 years before, and it all gets really confusing. I don’t want my non-mystery novels to require a pin board with red string to figure out what’s happening.
The second chapter opens with the ‘one week before’ section, and it appears they are at Belfast, a bar owned by one of Max’s friends. I was under the impression that the bachelor party they were attending was there, since they mention going to a strip club, but not another bar. They meet Sarah there. Later on, Sarah says she’s never been to Belfast. It was something that jumped out at me, and all the weird timeline incongruities didn’t help.
Otherwise, the writing flowed well and there were some fairly funny asides that I liked. The character’s speech was sometimes a little stilted, but I find it difficult to convincingly write a male character that uses terms of endearment constantly.
One of my favorite lines:
“She would get Max out of her apartment and crawl into a nice bottle of wine to cool the burn of embarrassment.”
I enjoyed the writing style enough that I am curious to check out the other titles in the series, or maybe even just other works by this author. The reasons for keeping the hero and heroine apart here were a little manufactured, but they were sweet and spicy enough to keep me cheering them on.
Interested? Find a copy at your local library!