REVIEW: A Vicarage Wedding by Kate Hewitt
Rachel Holley has always dreamed of a wedding—the white dress, the fairy tale, and of course, the happily-ever-after. But when her fiancé breaks it off the night before, claiming she doesn’t love him, Rachel’s fairy tale ends in ashes.
Homeless, hopeless, and feeling like her life has been completely derailed, Rachel must start over in all sorts of ways—and hold her head up high in the fishbowl of her tiny village. The last person she expects to become a friend is Sam West, the taciturn owner of The Bell, Thornthwaite’s rougher pub, and a little rough around the edges of himself.
But as Rachel gets to know Sam, and sees him caring for his orphaned nephew, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic man. Nothing about Sam is what Rachel expected in a life partner, and yet she can’t deny their increasing closeness. But can love flourish on the rebound? And will there be a vicarage wedding after all?
Dear Ms. Hewitt,
“We need to talk.” When a book – and in this case a conversation between two people about to be married – starts with this, then there is sure to be imminent trouble. Our heroine Rachel is about to have her fancy, dream wedding and happy married, family life dreams come crashing down. Rachel might think she’s stunned by the gentle way her fiancé drops the bombshell but a few other people aren’t including oldest sister Esther who levels a shrewd look at Rachel then sorts the awkward week in Provence that was to have been the honeymoon. No sense in letting that go to waste.
Once back from the sunny, warm south of France, Rachel endures the pitying looks and careful way her family handles her. She also does a lot of thinking about why she was so gung-ho to have such a posh do and sign herself and Dan on to buying a too large house. That, of course, has to go and the wedding prezzies will need to be boxed up but Rachel is determined to still get the golden retriever puppy as she needs something in her life to love. And goldens are so darling!
The fact that her sister Anna and fiancé Simon are due to tie the knot and their beloved parents are headed to China doesn’t help as mentioning wedding stuff can still make Rachel just a little envious, sad and, all right, bitter about how her own HEA turned out. Plus all four sisters are still slightly shell shocked about the parentals being so far away. Rachel finds some unexpected advice – just after she puked in a pub garden – from an unsmiling man who is the owner of the boots she just hurled on. Nothing, he tells her, is as bad as it seems and best face up to it. Well – that was bracing.
More changes pile on as it dawns on everyone that shy Anna will soon be stepping into her mother’s shoes as the “vicar’s wife” while the rest of the Holley sisters need to vacate the rambling old vicarage that’s been their home for decades. Where to go now as Rachel sold her small cottage? Salvation comes in an unexpected place but from a man Rachel already knows a bit – or she knows his boots. And it’s Sam who says what the others haven’t – things suck sometimes – which Rachel appreciates after her meltdown over moving the rest of her stuff out of the not-to-be home.
Sam is a man of mystery and few words and Rachel senses that he doesn’t willingly share much of himself or like to accept help. So Rachel is surprised when he reluctantly asks for it. Once she knows the reason though, it makes sense and will bring the two of them a bit closer. Sam’s nephew Nathan will be in Rachel’s school class and after only a day, Rachel knows she’s going to have her hands full.
So, a jilted teacher, a taciturn pub owner and his problematic nephew, one Holley sister getting married and another with something going on – though she won’t say what – and their parents off to another country around the world. The Holley women are tight knit though they can annoy each other at times and their menfolk know when to clear out of the room. Rachel has a lot of thinking to do about how she and her ex ended up where they did. She has conflicting emotions which I think she has a right to but also needs to examine her motives and not jump into dating again – which I’m glad to see her tell her sisters a time or three.
Events from the previous two books propel this story along though I think this one can stand on its own. I was surprised that it’s only Rachel’s POV that we see but then Sam has a few secrets in his past which need to unfold when the time is right. However I felt that we’re shown what he’s feeling by his actions and words so well that I wasn’t lost as to where he stood. What he tells Rachel about her father and mother is touching and proof that Roger and Ruth live their faith as well as preach it. I love Ruth’s quiet way of helping her daughters.
The book isn’t “preachy” though. Rachel has to dig deep and finds that her father is right about needing faith to trust when things aren’t going easy. She also has some revelations about what drove her to reach for the dream she thought she had and learns to see what her true HEA life might be. Then she gets up the gumption to go for it. Sam and her family question her reasons and her resolve but this time Rachel is sure – much to the amusement of the laconic old farmers sitting with their pints in Sam’s pub. That scene alone is worth it. Yeah Sam, I think it’s time to kiss the lass.
None of these characters is perfect. Each has a bit of stubbornness or angst or sternness – to put Esther kindly. They’re like real people who you can love to bits but who can still drive you mental sometimes. Rachel has to fight for this new dream and I’m looking forward to the last book to see how this will play out. And to discover what’s going to happen to the baby sister. But if Roger is giving his daughter away in marriage, and Anna is marrying the new vicar Simon – who’s performing the ceremony? Inquiring minds …B+