The Wedding Duel

The Wedding Affair by Karen L King
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13 ISBN 0-8217-7414-X
The Wedding Affair is a classic Regency era romance that employs the standards secret baby/big misunderstanding plot devices. King does a good job of keeping these otherwise timeworn themes interesting, but loses ground by introducing too many external storylines.

Major Anthony “Tony” Sheridan receives a letter from his fiancée Felicity while on the battlefield. The letter is asking him if she can join him in Spain. Fearing for her safety, he refuses, telling her to stay in England. What Tony doesn’t know is that his blood obscured the first part of the letter that was telling him Felicity was pregnant with his child.

Felicity, thinking Tony has rejected her, is devastated but realizes she must act quickly to protect both her reputation and that of her unborn child. So she marries an older man who is less than pleasant and never lets her forget her son Charles is not his own.

Six years later, Tony meets up with Felicity, who was recently widowed. Thinking she betrayed him, he is angry. Ditto for Felicity. This goes on for a bit until the truth comes out, and then Tony sets about convincing Felicity that they need to be together again. Thanks to her dead husband, Felicity has soured on the idea of marriage and does not want to relinquish her estate and business affairs to a man when she has worked so hard to make them successful on her own.

In the meantime, Tony is investigating the supposed suicide of one of his men. In the course of the investigation it becomes necessary for Tony to take up residence in Felicity’s home. The old spark is there and it is only a matter of time before Felicity and Tony end up in each other’s arms.

Felicity is a capable and stable heroine. Her only real flaw is her constant “I shall never marry and be shackled to a man” mantra. Her feelings are understandable given her first marriage, but enough is enough. Tony as a hero is typical in that he finds out he has a child with the heroine, insists on being with the heroine because the child deserves a father then proceeds arrogantly forward regardless of her feelings. He’s not as bad as some, but he just didn’t do it for me.

Crowding out the romance in this book is a plethora of subplots. There is the murder investigation, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks impersonating Felicity’s dead niece, one of Tony’s friends falling in love with said girl, just to name a few. All of these subplots are well written and interesting, it’s just that there are too many of them. If King had chosen just one to focus on, the book would have been more balanced. As it is, however, the book becomes too fragmented causing the reader to lose focus. The relationship between Tony and Felicity becomes almost an afterthought.

Then there is Tony and Felicity’s son, Charles. He is supposed to only be a few months shy of six years old but he talks like a little adult. What six year-old uses words like “latitude”? Even if the reader were willing to assume he was some type of genius, he should then be intelligent enough to know you don’t ask every solider you meet if they’re your father. In short, he acts like a child or a mini-adult depending on plot demands.

The Wedding Affair manages to overcome its well-used plot devices to be an interesting story. Unfortunately, its confusing array of subplots distracts from the romance, rather than enhancing it.

--Anne Bulin

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