by Connie Brockway, historical (2001)
Dell, $6.99, ISBN 0-440-23671-1
Watch out Little Bidwell! The small, rustic countryside is about to receive the most flamboyant visitor ever. Little does mousy spinster Eglantyne Bigglesworth suspect what pandemonium she is about to cause when she invites the aunt of her old classmate, Lady Agatha, to plan her dear niece Angela's wedding to a marquis. It is to be a wedding Little Bidwell will never see again in a long time. More importantly, someone with Lady Agatha's ability may make the marquis' parents unbend a little and accept a country girl as their daughter-in-law.
Lady Agatha wears modest clothes that manage to be provocative all at once. She uses street cant when she isn't too careful. And her actions and speech sometimes suggest that she may be more familiar with the theaters and other immodest stuff a proper wedding planner shouldn't know about. The people of Little Bidwell is about to get their lives turned topsy-turvy by this irrepressible wedding planner!
Actually, she's just Letty Potts. She is an actress, and a soddin'g good singer, as she would tell you. She just needs a chance to show off, a plum role, you know. Unfortunately, she joined some wrong crowd. Her angry partner conspirator Nick has burned her house down when she refused to join him in cheating widows or something like that. When she stumbles upon the real Lady Agatha eloping with some French guy, it's pure luck. When Lady Agatha drops her ticket - ah!
When she is mistaken as Lady Agatha when she arrives - heh heh heh. She will take all of Lady Agatha's stuff (the woman really didn't have time to unload her stuff from the train when she eloped) and hawk them and start a new life. Nobody will get hurt, Lady Agatha wouldn't care, and she would be on her way, thank you ma'am.
Too bad the local magistrate Sir Elliot March, no title but Queen Victoria will be giving him a baronet soon for his Responsible and Inestimable Services to the country, is suspicious. But "Lady Agatha" makes him laugh and love and go so crazy, he doesn't know what to do.
Where should I start? Should I embarrass myself by saying that I was laughing all the time I was reading this? I wanted to read a few chapters and then go to bed by ten like a responsible old biddy. This morning my eyes were red-rimmed from the lack of sleep. Connie Brockway is so cruel.
Maybe I should start with the characters instead. Letty Potts. Ah, no girly nonsense here. No "I am a bad 'un because my absent-minded scholar father has hepatitis and my grandmother needs an operation and my brother needs ten thousand pounds to pay off Captain Sharp but that was after he lost the house and oh, those hungry children!" nonsense. Letty Potts is just wonderful as the unwitting wedding planner who tries so hard to be cynical only to fail. She isn't bad, she isn't the starchy virtuous type, she's just a woman who does her best to survive her circumstances. And best of all, she is funny, spunky, and so likable.
I do have some reservations - minor ones. Some elements of Letty's personality don't gel. Like her virginal me-no-spread philosophy - why is that? She wants to be cynical right, so what is that? She doesn't seem to be averse to being attracted to handsome men like Elliot. So what gives? I find it hard to believe that Ms Cynical will be waiting for Mr Right. There are times in the last few chapters when she seems to be angling for the Joan of Arc mantle, but thankfully she never turns into a super-martyr nitwit.
I could do without the court case at the end though. Court cases and romance mixed together tend to produce too much sugar and melodrama. This one here isn't that bad, but it does have some "Eeeuw" moments for me.
How about Elliot? Oh Elliot. He's so human. No super-stud, no ultra-tormented misogynist - just a very likable nice guy. He's so serious at times that it just warms my heart to see him laugh in Letty's company. See, they both mix like electrons and photons in a nuclear reactor. It's so right, because the sexual tension, chemistry, rapport, banters, everything just seems right. The poor, poor man, he doesn't know which way is up when Letty turns his world completely upside down.
Maybe I should talk about the funniest croquet match I have ever read. I think I broke a rib.
The Other Woman, Elliot's ex who sometimes can't let go, is actually a genuine, human woman who isn't bad or evil - she's just human and even sympathetic character. This isn't a cat fight or even a central plot, just some color. The other secondary characters fall on the "matchmaking staff and nosy old people" category, but the author gives them a tweak here and there to give them some dimensions. Besides, they're funny.
Or that nice dog of Letty who bonds with Eglantyne? That is such a sweet thing, isn't it, dog and woman bonding like that? Awww.
And that nice proposal thing at the end. A big sigh. It makes up for the rather annoying court case.
Stuff the rest of the new books in my TBR pile. They're probably crud. I'll just reread this one for now. The Bridal Season deserves my bouquet of accolades, which has gotten dusty from lack of use anyway. Great book, great book, brava, brava! Oh, I'm so happy I can dance on clouds. Or something.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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