Review: Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke 47

Trouble at the Wedding

Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Publisher: HarperCollins/Avon
Pub. Date: December 27, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0061963179
Digital Price: $4.99
Print Price: $7.99

Annabel is about to marry the perfect man . . .

The last thing Miss Annabel Wheaton desires is true love. She learned the hard way that love makes a woman foolish and leads only to heartache. That’s why she agreed to marry an earl who needs her money. He’s got a pedigree and a country estate, and he won’t ever break her heart. There’s only one problem . . .

Christian isn’t about to let her marry that pompous prig . . .

Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, thinks the stubborn heiress is about to make the biggest mistake of her life, and he’s determined to stop her. Tempting beautiful women is Christian’s forte, after all. When her family offers him a nice sum of money to stop the wedding, he’s happy to accept.

Falling in love with Annabel was never supposed to be part of the bargain . . .

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What would you think of a historical romance that takes place in 1904 (not the Regency or even the Victorian period), starts out in New York City not England, and features a Southern Belle heroine?  Oh, there is a duke as a hero—but he’s penniless!

You’d think fresh, fresh, fresh, that’s what you’d think!

Laura Lee Guhrke has really created a charming read, the third in her Abandoned at the Altar series.  This book hooked me from page one and didn’t let go.

Our Southern belle, Annabelle Wheaton, is from Gooseneck Bend, Mississippi, her daddy having struck it rich from gold mining.  But she’ll never be good enough for the knickerbocker crowd of New York City.  She plans to marry the Earl of Rumsford, whom she doesn’t love but with whom she believes she has a relationship of mutual respect.  She will infuse his bankrupt estate with rejuvenating funds, and he will give her and her family the respectability and status she craves. Annabelle vows her little sister will have a proper coming out ball, unlike her humiliating one, where no one showed up.

Ah, but Rummy’s a true scoundrel, and Christian DuQuesne, the Duke of Scarborough, knows it well.  He’s in New York to scope out new investment opportunities to save his own floundering estate.  He knows Rummy agreed to marry Annabelle on board an ocean liner (think Titanic in size and scope) because he’s embarrassed of her and her backwater family.  Christian even sees Rumsford gleefully visit a courtesan in a gaming club right before the wedding.

But Christian has his own ghosts to fight.  He married an American heiress years ago to save his own estate.  She was desperately unhappy and he was irresponsible.  While he was using her money to gamble, she miscarried their baby and died.  And he cannot forgive himself.  He vows never to marry again, and is even content to let his ducal title pass to a cousin.

Then Annabelle’s Uncle Arthur makes him an offer he can’t refuse.   If Christian stops Annabelle’s wedding, Arthur will give him half a million dollars.  Christian agrees, needing the money, but also feeling that saving Annabelle from a clearly bad fate might help him atone a bit for his own past sins.

Here is a witty example of Christian really working it, doing his best to teach Annabelle the evils of living in a dilapidated English estate:

“We have ne-vah had central heating, my lady,” he said in a ponderous voice, managing to seem every bit as proper and stuffy as she’d always imagined an English butler to be.  “And we ne-vah shall, God willing,” he went on.  “Keeping our feet warm is what the dogs are for.”

 “Dogs?  You mean foxhounds?”

“No, no, hounds are another thing altogether.  They rather go along with the estate, like the entail, you know, and the leaky roof, and the inevitable dowager who always hates being usurped.  No, I’m talking about Rummy’s own dogs.  He has nine.”

Annabelle is attracted to Christian from the start, but has a weakness for bad boys, and she will not go down that road again.  She is determined to carry out her plan, despite the fact that Christian shakes all her mistaken beliefs about marrying for status and respectability down to their very core.

Sparks truly fly between these two.  Here is an exchange between Christian and Annabelle as he informs her of what her life will be like after her marriage:

“They’ll want to change you, mold you into what they think you ought to be.  They’ll change the way you dress, the way you move, your voice—”

 “What’s wrong with my voice?” she demanded, but even as she asked the question, she could hear how she sounded, how my became mah and voice became vo-iss, and she stopped, biting her lip in frustration.  A month’s worth of diction lessons, yet she still couldn’t stop drawing out her vowels, especially when she was upset.  

 “Don’t do it.”  He leaned close, all trace of amusement vanishing from his face.  “I meant what I said.  You have a gorgeous voice.  It’s like warm honey butter oozing over warm toast.  Don’t let them change it.  Don’t let them change you.”

Christian doesn’t count on falling in love with her.  This leads to absolutely disastrous consequences, which leads to even more disaster…

This is a really fun read full of freshness and deep feeling.  Both Annabelle and Christian must grow and change and realize what they truly want in life (and it is the complete opposite of what they thought they wanted).   Their inner conflicts feel very real.  Their road to happily-ever-after is fraught with trouble, and you will really enjoy the ride!

I highly recommend Trouble at the Wedding.  So now off I go to find books one and two of this trilogy…

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat Level: 4 (Hot) 

Reviewed by Miranda

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