Dear Ms. Smith:
Winter Wedding is a bit of a fantasy tale with a very sweet misunderstanding that separates the hero and heroine. The story is fluffy and I wouldn’t be able to read several in this vein in a row without getting a toothache, but for a holiday story, it might help set the right mood for gift giving and falling in love.
Clara Christopher, age 22, is an orphan who goes from aunt to cousin to uncle to friend as way of life. Two years ago while Clara was at a house party, she was romanced for by handsome Lord Allingcote but he had to leave abruptly when his father fell ill. Clara hasn’t seen him since. She’s heard of Lord Allingcote, not that she’s kept track or anything, but it always seems she misses him. He’ll show up at a house party that she thought of going to but turned down. He’ll arrive at a party just as she is leaving. They are like two ships in the night.
They seemed to go to many of the same places, unfortunately at different times. Even Scotland, so out-of-the-way and where she had twice visited her aunt, had been on his route. He seemed to be as rootless as herself–"worse. He was willfully rootless, for he had a home of his own and traveled apparently from mere caprice.
For the reader, we know exactly what is going on and reading the reminisces about these near meetings is both humorous and poignant.
We usually exchange a visit once a year. We all go to Braemore in autumn, and Peg brings the children here in the spring." Bad timing again, Clara thought. "Benjie comes, too, though he does not usually stay the whole two weeks. He was here last July by himself, but went darting off to Brighton halfway through the visit. He is strangely restless.”
Clara bit back a howl of dismay. She had been in Brighton in June! Why could he not have gone in June?
For the first time since that first party when Clara and Ben (named after Benjamin Franklin, a friend of his father) met two years ago, they are in the same house party together. Clara hopes that she might renew the flirtation but her hopes are dashed when she learns that Lord Allingcote will be bringing Nel Muldoon, a rich young beauty.
Clara remembered hearing the girl spoken of as a beauty, and her hopes of being the belle of the party and enjoying a flirtation with Allingcote withered to dust. Determined to know the worst, she said to Prissie, "What does she look like?”
Clara is awfully confused when Ben does start flirting with her again but at the same time squires Nel around the house. Clara is not above gossiping and engaging in some catty exchanges with Ben’s sister about Nel and about her cousin’s soon to be groom. I thought it was a welcome relief to the “butter won’t melt in her mouth” heroines.
The misunderstandings score the entire book with each exchange of information seeming ripe for creating a divide. Clara strikes up a friendship with Ben’s sister and she proceeds to regale Clara with all of Ben’ flirts, to show Clara that he has much nicer flirts than Nel.
Lady Marguerite told, without a bit of prodding, how much nicer all Benjie’s other flirts were. A whole raft of Miss this and Lady that and Cousin so-and-so flew from her tongue, till Clara’s head was spinning. What a fool she had been to think Allingcote meant a thing by his attentions to her. He was a gazetted flirt, who spent his days flitting about from house to house, visiting any family with a nubile daughter.
The two are simply not aware of anything but, perhaps, each other. For when Ben lays eyes on Clara again, he responds by remembering her name, laughing uncomfortably, and recalling exactly the type of drink she likes. All of this two and two adds up to four for the reader, but not for the characters, blinded by their myopathy.
I did think that the misunderstandings drug along a bit too long and showed the characters in a slightly negative light given that the two seemed purposely dense at times but overall, the romance was quite sweet. B-
This book can be purchased in ebook format.