The Wedding Night
by Linda Needham, historical (1999)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-79635-X


Ms Needham's latest book is more relaxed and easy in pace than her last masterpiece, Her Secret Guardian. However, that doesn't mean The Wedding Night is slow or sleepy. On the contrary, if Cherif Fortin, John D'Salvo, and Brad Pitt came up and start doing the Full Monty right outside my window, I'd probably just pull down the shades and continue reading.

This book is fabulous! There are two treasure hunters searching for an ancient medallion that points to a great silver mine, both looking for it for different reasons. Lord Jackson Rushford is a industrial baron at the turn of the 19th century, arrogant and used to having his way. Mairey Faelyn is a genius in the study of antique and folklore. The story begins with Lord Rushford practically forcing Mairey to cooperate with him to hunt for the Willowmoon medallion, and from there onwards, it's a courting ritual going on in that big house of his. He wants the mine for the wealth it could bring him, and uh-uh, no way is she going to let him find it - she'll find it first herself!

What makes this book special is the hero. Dear Jackson. For all his blustering and King Kong impersonation, everybody from the reader to Mairey to her sisters see him for what he is: a lonely, vulnerable man in need of a good woman's tender loving care. Jackson is on a mission to find the whereabouts of his mother and three sisters whom he'd lost contact with, and reading about his loneliness is heartbreaking. He is clearly befuddled when Mairey brought along her three sisters and her aunt to his home and turned it topsy-turvy. His first encounter with the three adorable brats moved me to tears. Poor lonely man.

Yet there is no self-pity and macho antics for our hero. He apologizes to Mairey when he speaks to her or her family rudely (fancy that!), and he is intelligent and honest enough to admit to himself that he loves Mairey and her family, and he doesn't want to let her go. This man is clearly a stand-out among the many heroes populating the romance section.

I also enjoyed Ms. Needham's handling of the Big Secret. I was afraid that there would be a big explosion when Mairey's Big Secret is revealed and the book will degenerate into a I hate you you cheating scum scream fest. But no, these two characters actually talk to each other, and dear Jackson actually asks Mairey for an explanation for what she did. And he loves her to actually understand her motives and loves her even more for her courage in defying his wishes.

And I must say, the wedding night is a wonderful blend of humor and sizzling sensuality.

Red hot sexual tension, a truly wonderful couple, and three memorable brats... sorry, children. I close this book with a big smile on my face and a wonderful warmth flooding my senses.

Rating: 94


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