Then Comes Marriage
by Kasey Michaels, historical (2002)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-60918-8


Then Comes Marriage is a difficult book for me to say objectively whether it's "good" or "bad". On one hand, the two main characters are just adorable together. On the other hand, readers who have not read Someone To Love will probably be off-balance for the first few chapters, as the conflict that drives this story starts in Someone To Love. The plot is one that makes me go "Huh", but like I said, it's such a charming story.

Oh, what to do?

Brady James, the guy who lost his secret boyfriend Kipp to Abby in Someone To Love, gets his happy ending here with Regina Bliss, who first made her appearance in Someone as a waifish girl with secrets. In Someone, Brady doesn't buy her act and goes around making enquiries about her. This busybody antics of his is what catalyzes the mess in Then Comes Marriage.

In Then Comes Marriage, three men kidnap Brady, give him a walloping of his life, and throw him into the Thames for dead. I'm not joking. For Brady, already feeling bored with his life now that all his secret boyfriends have given up their boarding school bonds and gotten married, this is the last straw. He fakes his death and now plans to make an appearance in Society as his own heir to get the three bastards.

This is where Regina steps in too. Her life is filled with Dreaded Secrets, but don't worry, it's not as if she's some mistress to a French spy or anything. Genteel readers will not die of a heart attack. But the three men who almost did Brady in must be the same three men who murdered her father, so she decided to play as Brady's heir's ward (confused yet?) to help Brady trap the baddies.

Now, I know Brady is damaged bad, but come on, am I to believe that nobody in town will recognize him in his second coming to London? Don't make me snort, please. This incredulity of mine will keep bugging me throughout my reading, distracting me a lot.

But it's fun following "Gawain Carradoc" (Brady) and "Regina Felicity" (duh) as they run around London. And yes, each thinks the other's nom de guerre sucks mighty lemons. Especially fun is Grady's reluctant transformation into the very person he detests - a dandy whose collars are so high you can poke the stars with them.

I like Brady. He is unapologetically nice and good-natured, maybe ridiculously so for someone who almost died in the Thames. And Regina, she's on the whole smart enough to play and even improvise on their deception, so she's a participant to the deception instead of being one of those ubiquitous dumb "Can't lie even when my life is in danger" bluestocking heroines. And when she delights in attending parties and wearing low-cut dresses (they are the height of fashion, you know, she tells Brady, to which Brady retorts that he doesn't know that "French" is equivalent to "naked"), I am charmed.

It is nice to read about unapologetically fun-loving, party-hopping characters, even if their jolly nature is completely at odds with the plot, because I have recently read a few gloomy books that are so wrong (gloomy characters are good, but gloomy characters with stereotypical pop psychology are bad). If I may say so, Then Comes Marriage is one happy book.

Oh, Regina does something really stupid towards the end of the story, but hey, she is a romance heroine, so I guess she has to make a few dumb mistakes for luck.

So yeah, I can nitpick like crazy about this book. Like how the guys all speak to each other like sorority girls, how the plot doesn't make much sense, how the story move at a snail's crawl at times, how, how, how. But I like it nonetheless.

So that's it. This book is fun. It isn't much, but it's enough.

Rating: 85


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