|First Dance by Karen Kendall is book three in a four part set called The Bridesmaid Chronicles, written by four different authors. I canít say anything about the quality of the other three books, not having read them, but I can say that I like the characters, setting and premise of the series. I had a hard time reading First Dance, though.
This book is about Vivien Shelton, bridesmaid and best friend of the bride around whoís wedding the books are centered. Vivien is a high-powered, busy divorce attorney working and living in Manhattan. Sheís a scary woman with her designer power suits and sophisticated big-city demeanor, but she spends her free time doing pro-bono work for a womenís shelter and rescuing racing greyhounds. She lives alone with her five dogs because sheís distrustful of committed relationships, having her neglectful father and needy mother and grandmother as examples.
When Vivien receives an email from the bride, Juliaís, sister, Sydney (the heroine of another book in the set), regarding the possibility that Julia might be making a horrible mistake, Vivien rushes to the rescue. It seems the situation calls for an ironclad pre-nuptial agreement. Juliaís engagement rock has been proven to be fake, and Julia doesnít care! Apparently her fiancť, Roman, the bum, is after Juliaís large trust fund. When Vivien arrives in Fredericksburg, Texas, the town in which Julia is to be married, Julia refuses to even discuss a pre-nuptial agreement and forbids Vivien to approach Roman about it. Vivien is then forced to speak with Romanís attorney, a man with whom she has an ugly history.
J.B. Anglin is Romanís family attorney. He met Vivien in New York three years before while working on Romanís sister Kikiís divorce. Vivien represented Kikiís spouse and won the case by what J.B. feels were unfair tactics. J.B was very attracted to Vivien outside the courtroom, though, and asked her to be his date at a black tie event. They ended up going to bed together, and had a great time until Vivien inexplicably turned cold and booted a naked J.B. out of the hotel room. J.B is not happy to see Vivien in his hometown. He doesnít want to be groomsman to her bridesmaid, and he is especially displeased when Vivien approaches him about the pre-nup, since he knows it is undoubtedly against his clientís wishes.
When J.B. and Vivien are forced into each otherís company several times over wedding matters, they admit to themselves that the attraction that brought them together in New York is still very strong. Vivien realizes that she was very wrong in the assumptions she made that caused her to treat J. B. so callously, and J. B. finds that Vivien has a soft underbelly and uses coldness to protect herself from hurt. J. B. decides he wants to get past Vivienís shell to the warm and loving woman inside, so he woos her in earnest.
This could have been a five-heart book. The hero is a wonderful, tenderhearted, loyal guy, and the heroine is smart, loving and complex. The setting and secondary characters are important to the story, very well described and interesting. The love scenes are delicious. Important social issues are discussed and the reader is taken from hilarity, to chagrin, to sympathy and back again. The plot is great, almost everything about this book is great, and I wish I could give it a better rating.
But the dialogue is exhausting!
Vivien banters flirtatiously with her doorman in New York. She banters with Julie and Sydney about the wedding, and relationships, and shoes. J. B. and Vivien banter at first hatefully, then flirtatiously. Banter, banter, banter. Snappy comebacks and wisecracks pepper every other page. Some of itís great, some of itís not, but either way, thereís too much Ė way, way too much - clever repartee. It became so annoying that at times I had to put the book down in self-defense.
Ms. Kendall is definitely talented. First Dance is so close to being a great book that once you start it you have to finish it, even as you skim entire pages of conversation for the meaningful bits.