No. No. No. No. No. No. Just No and more no. This is my second Aimee Carson book. Earlier this week I read (and loved) The Wedding Dress Diaries, which is a prequel to The Unexpected Wedding Guest. Everything I liked about the prequel is completely absent from the first volume of the series. No one... There's no... I just.... ARGH!
Spoiler Alert: I didn't like it.
Reese is the younger (and pampered) sister of the hero from The Wedding Dress Diaries. None of that matters. Although the prequel sets up the relationship between Reese and her brother as something to explore, it's brushed completely aside. As well, the supposed lifelong friendship of Reese and the heroine from the first book becomes irrelevant. Reese has real friends, the girls she went to college with. You know these are her real friends because they show up in the final pages of the book to populate the sequels. For most of the book Reese is either completely on her own or watching a man walk away from her.
Mason is the unexpected guest and Reese's ex-husband. His therapist (he's a war vet with a brain injury) has suggested he contact Reese for closure. It's completely logical that Mason would choose to show up unannounced three days before Reese's wedding. Of course none of the staff at the mansion she's rented for the event would challenge him as he walks right into the bedroom where her fitting is being held. Of course her future sister in law and lifelong friend would pick up her sewing kit and promptly skedaddle. Why wouldn't any of this happen? It makes total sense!
That's not fair. It makes more sense than most of the rest of the book. Reese has allegedly hired a mansion with a full staff. None of them appear, get names or do a single thing. Reese and Mason are left completely alone. Deliveries must be received by one of them, guests must be greeted by one of them, changes to the menu, decorations or favors must be hand completed by one of them. It's like Reese rented an empty house and has no friends or family. Look, that's not how rich people do things. I know rich people. I've worked for rich people. I've been rich people. There is absolutely no way a pampered rich person isn't going to have half a dozen people waiting to hop when they crook a languid finger. Just... no.
Reese's fiancé shows up, sees Mason and promptly calls off the wedding. He sees Reese as a useless doll. (Again, why is she throwing the wedding effectively by herself?) Reese lets Mason stay so they can discuss where their relationship went wrong while she sifts through the wreckage of her current one. Reese blames herself for the end of her engagement, even though her fiancé is a complete tool about it. Mason blames Reese of the end of their marriage, which means Reese eventually does too, even though Mason is a complete tool about it. Reese seems to spend all of her time chasing after tools that just want to slip in her box and then abandon her. We're supposed to feel sorry for Mason because he's a war hero and he's not rich and he has a brain injury. I didn't.
Despite Mason having severe short term memory issues they never appear to cause him difficulty. His brain inury is simplified to Gets Headaches and Forgot Your Name. His impotence is cured by exposure to Reese, so he never mentions it. His PTSD is hand waved away and his utter failure to communicate like an adult is excused as pride. Mason is an emotionally abusive jerk Reese will be running after and begging for answers from the rest of her life. So he's a war hero. So what? Oh yea, it also opens with body policing.
Reese muddles through with the least amount of support possible from everyone in her life. She's treated like a child by just about everyone. When her inexperience leads her into possible danger, her suddenly present staff runs to find a man to take control instead of just speaking to her clearly. Reese is stuck between apologizing, self blaming, and meeting the needs of others throughout the book. Fail Whale, meet The Unexpected Wedding Guest.
* This review originally appeared at Love In The Margins.