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REVIEW: The Right Wedding Gown by Shirley Hailstock

Dear Ms. Hailstock,

I have been looking forward to sharp tongued Samara finding love with persistent Joshua for months now – well, ever since Samara’s sister Cinnamon’s book. But, alas, I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my hopes for it.

Samara is marriage shy. Actually not just shy but phobic. You’ve given her some concrete reasons in that so many of her family and friends are on their second and third attempts. That plus the national marriage statistics make the effort looked doomed to failure and filled with heartache. So, Samara decides to play it smart and enjoy dating but with no intention of ever tying the knot.

Joshua knows quickly that Samara is The One for him. He’s one of the divorce statistics and the fact that he was married when he first began pursuing her, though separated and already having filed for divorce, turns Samara off. Okay, that’s understandable. Then their attempts at dating get screwed the next few times he asks her out. With his job, again, I can see it. His ex does sound like a piece of work.

But he persists and keeps after Samara in a way that is unique and shows he knows what’s important to her, namely old documents. Now this was genius on his part and impressed me, too. Here’s a woman who lives for old documents and even works in the National Archives – and how cool is that? – so he uses “aged” invitations to dates.

But, though I can understand that Samara is leery of marriage, after a while, I got sick and tired of her waffling. And I’m surprised it took Joshua as long as it did to join me in this thought. He pursues, she declines, he continues, she gives in, they date, they feel more than a spark, she gets twitchy, she backs off and tells him “that’s it, no more, we’re finished,” he pursues and she gives in. As they say, “wash, rinse and repeat.” A hundred pages of this gets old quickly.

Then she reports all this to her friends and wishy-washes some more. He’s hot, he’s nice, he’s got a good job, he loves her but oh noes! the statistics. She can’t possibly take the risk as it’s doomed – doomed! I tell you – to failure. If I’d been one of her friends, I would have been smacking her with one of the menus from the places they met to eat.

I found myself more interested in her job in the archives – and thank you for including more of this aspect of her life than we saw of Cinnamon’s job. More interested in the details of DC, more interested in the painting that Joshua wants restored for his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary – and where did this subplot go to? A build up to something interesting, namely potential war bounty from, I would assume, the Nazi theft of art around WWII then, poof! that’s over with little fanfare.

One thing that did make me happy was that Joshua changes his job. Not necessarily for Samara but the switch would benefit their time together. As he kept missing date after date, I wondered if this had impacted his last marriage and thought it didn’t bode well for any future one. But he saves himself from burn out, gets a promotion up in government ranks and gets to work at the White House too. Cool deal.

Cinnamon and Mac appear just enough that I know they’re happy and their parts here support this book and its characters.
I also wish the cover art, though lovely, had utilized one of the descriptions of the antique wedding dresses in the book.

Sad to say that instead of a smart, sophisticated contemporary, I got a repetitive and ultimately boring story that left me feeling that the heroine wasn’t too smart – or was perhaps too smart for her own good – and a hero who appeared to having something for masochistic behavior. C-


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Aoife
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 13:03:14

    But he saves himself from burn out, gets a promotion up in government ranks and gets to work at the White House too. Cool deal.

    I haven’t read this book but this quote caught my eye.

    In what universe does a White House job provide more time for a personal life?!

    From everything I’ve read, access to the White House pretty much means you don’t have a personal life.

  2. Jess
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 15:05:10

    I was looking for a good place to buy this book and I stumbled across this website: They have really reasonable prices and I have come to enjoy the convenience of eBooks. They carry The Right Wedding Gown, too. Here's the link in case anyone is interested:

  3. Jayne
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 17:23:03

    Aoife, apparently in this universe it does allow for more private life. The job Carl had before was with some super secret agency that deals with crisis situations and he was pretty much on 24/7, hence all the missed dates. I guess with a White House job, maybe he’s only on 22/7?

  4. Sarah
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 19:20:51

    As an employee at the Archives (and the child of two Archivists), I’m particularly interested in this one. I wonder how accurate they got it… I’ll definitely have to check it out, if only to try and guess how strong the connection is between the author and the Archives.

    Small quibble – A person works at the Archives, not in them, as “the Archives” (I’ve never capitalized “the”) is the shorthand name for the National Archives and Records Administration, not necessarily a place. Or at least thats how we’ve always said it…

  5. Aoife
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 21:20:10

    Aoife, apparently in this universe it does allow for more private life. The job Carl had before was with some super secret agency that deals with crisis situations and he was pretty much on 24/7, hence all the missed dates. I guess with a White House job, maybe he's only on 22/7?

    @Jayne That must be it.

    For some reason it struck me as funny. I can handle werewolves, vampires, and aristocratic Regency misses who enthusiastically lose their virginity in the library, but the idea of someone taking a job in the White House so he could free up some time for a love life just made me snort.

  6. Jane
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 23:46:16

    @Jayne: LOL! Those extra two hours means at least 2 more minutes of family time, right?

  7. Jayne
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 12:15:56

    Hell yes. That’s 14 hours a week! Think of all you can squeeze into your life with that kind of time.

  8. Jayne
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 12:19:26

    Sarah, it’s probably just me messing up the terminology. Thanks for the insight into Archive-speak.

    So you work there too? How super cool. Which is your favorite document?

  9. Sarah
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 20:42:37

    No problem, anytime! It’s not as if its useful very often…

    I’m sorry this took so long for me to respond to, I’m not going to lie, part of it was the delay because I had to remember a project when I actually enjoyed the records, but the other part was a faulty memory.

    Today at work, I found two new favorite documents. They’re small, but I still like them….

    I’m working on files from offices that worked abroad (in case thats not vague enough for you…) and I found a file that to me basically describes how horribly the people of one country have been taken advantage of by their former colonial powers. A sham contract was entered, and then when this was renegotiated, the new negotiators were bribed. The file goes on to item by item describe in completely blunt terms how the former imperial power has abused a monopoly system, and recommends the U.S. involve itself immediately.

    The cool part is that despite not knowing anything of this industry, I was able to understand it. And that this man clearly wrote this impassioned plea for U.S. involvement and it remains to this day, a testament that someone, somewhere cared. And also, to be perfectly honest, it’s incredibly amusing. He claims its one of the biggest swindles ever committed in this particular field. EVER. And the bribed negotiators? He names them. And how much they were bribed for. The person reviewing it also highlighted passages, writing in the margins “Quite true” on numerous occasions. I have no idea if anything changed in this country, but I just thought it was a really interesting letter. He held nothing back.

    The second is a file describing the investigation into some air conditioning units that were stolen. The document is a summary of the sworn testimonies of this group of employees/thieves/embezzlers. The first one reads something like this… “Bob Smith admitted to the first 4 units stolen, later admitted to the second 5, and later admitted to the third 8, and later admitted to the fourth 3 units stolen. But only claims responsibility to the first 20.” The document goes on to detail how the leaders swindled the rest of the group numerous times, and has one testimony as “Jon Smith admits to participation in the thefts, but had no knowledge Bob Smith was cheating.” All in all they stole over 40 units. Apparently only 30 or so were ever recovered. And there was an actual web of crime in the file! A diagram showing who did what and when.

    My third favorite document was actually found a couple years ago, and is relatively simple, all things considered. Its not on any database, and we’ve frankly no idea of its actual significance. Its a ledger book with the time and attendance of the employees in an office from sometime in the 1800’s. One employee in particular was missing a lot, and it was written on one day “Visited at home, has pneumonia.” I just found it enormously interesting that this small ledger book was read hundreds of years later, and essentially contains nothing valuable. Just notations that so-and-so was late, and that man had pneumonia. I’m pretty sure he went back to work within the sheet, but I don’t know… For some reason, it just stuck with me, despite having looked at it around 5 years ago. Also, that they actually visited him seemed novel to me.

    Of course, we also have historically interesting documents; the Japanese Surrender from WWII, the Zimmerman telegram, and many other historically relevant documents. But my favorites are typically the small, outwardly boring ones…

    Sorry for the delay, and sorry for the long windedness, I was just so excited to be working with documents that are not incomprehensible diagrams of planes, or scientific experiments…

  10. Jayne
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 01:40:10

    Sarah, I think I’d enjoy the small, outwardly boring ones too. I’m laughing at the boss visiting his employee at home and imagining how much shit a lot of people would be in if anyone did this today. There was some poll at AOL once about the number of people who’d called in “sick” and really weren’t. Something like >40% of us have at one time or another.

    And the AC units! “I admit to this part of the theft but not that part.”

    I wonder if the US ever did get involved in the first issue.

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