Sunday, February 05, 2012

Stand-in Groom by Kaye Dacus

Anne Hawthorne is 35, overweight and married to her job as the proprietor of Happy Endings, Inc.: Bonneterre, Louisiana's prime stop for wedding planning.  Successful, renowned and popular-- thanks to her panache for throwing a great wedding and for exposure in some of the South's prime social sections and magazines, Anne should be happy with the independent nature of her life. Instead, she spends her days meticulously infusing romance into the lives of other women while forcing herself to realize that her chance at the same may have left her behind.

Struggling with a broken heart, a long-time grudge that forced her life to take a completely different turn and the untimely death of her parents, Anne is certain her path will be a lonely one until George Laurence arrives on the scene. Laurence, a dashing Brit who is desperate to hang on to a Permanent Residency in the US is at the beck- and- call as personal assistant to a celebrity whose schedule keeps him from planning his own wedding.  Posing as the groom, George is to accompany the pretty young fiance everywhere and make sure the wedding and engagement party come off without a hitch until the real groom can stand back in. Problem is, George is falling head-over-heels for the wedding planner who thinks he is well off the market.

I really liked the twist in Brides of Bonneterre from the traditional wedding planner chicklit tropes and its plot around "posing" for a story reminded me of Jenny B. Jones' Save the Date: a book I read at Christmas and really enjoyed.  As mentioned previously, I enjoy how Dacus champions a different type of heroine in her Christian chicklit: over 30, often full-figured ,not the most graceful or well-dressed, flawed and open about their misfortune in love and willing to unabashedly bear their souls when it comes to trying to accept their singleness in a sphere where marriage and family is seen to be a natural trajectory.

I was very pleasantly surprised when what seemed to be the prime conflict in the plot was wrapped up mid-way through only to usher in another unanticipated conflict to keep Anne and George at bay from their chug to their well-deserved happy ending and I applaud Dacus for "throwing me off", as it were, as I was happy that their budding relationship loaned itself to a few more hoops to jump through. 

I also very much enjoyed the quintessential Southern flavour of the book best exuded in the architecture Dacus describes, the Southern dialect dripping from the soft accents of our main characters, and the delicious dishes served which just goes to prove further the love of Southern natives for mounds of fattening, decadent food. I vacationed in New Orleans last summer and I was thrilled to revisit some of the words and labels and dishes that are completely anamolous to Louisiana.  In fact, reading about the heat, the sun, the damp humidity and the yawned pace that stretches over the gorgeous old plantation homes and Victorian mansions, you quite believe you are stepping into a belle epoque.

I found some of George's British idioms to be a little scattered and heavily laid on (toodles, lord love a duck, cheerio, etc., ) and there are some italicized prayers which readers of this blog know to be a device I am not fond of; but, all-in-all, those are just little squibbles.  This was a pleasant book to wile away a grey February Saturday.  I purchased the Brides of Bonneteere 3-in-1 set so have just started A Menu for Romance.

No comments: