"The Wedding Date" by Jasmine Guillory
As I pull into the parking lot of my eight-year-old’s elementary school, mucky slush from the morning’s snow sloshing under my tires, I think of how welcome an escape from the interminable cold and blah of a groundhog-saw-his-shadow mid-February in Ohio would be.
And that’s what I was hoping for when I picked up the much-promoted Jasmine Guillory novel, The Wedding Date.
Featuring a realistic protagonist, complete with wiggly bits and a serious donut fetish, The events of The Wedding Date take place in a setting about as different from the one in which I live as can be – sunny California.
As the book opens, Northern-California native Alexa Monroe is stepping onto a hotel elevator, heading up to visit her east-coaster sister who is in town for an important business meeting.
It’s not until the elevator unceremoniously stutters to a stop that Alexa realizes she’s sharing the elevator – must be a big fucking elevator – with a full-fledged, chiseled-body hunk.
The trapped duo soon discovers that the power has gone out, but they are assured that a generator will kick on shortly, allowing them to continue their upward travel with only a slight delay.
As they sit, trapped in the elevator, they begin to chat – obviously, because standing silently with someone in the elevator for 15+ minutes would be awkward AF. Alexa learns that the hottie with whom she’s sharing the car, Drew, is a pediatrician – which, let’s face it, is the sexiest form of doctor there is… no offense, podiatrists.
Drew lives – and saves the lives of children – in LA, but has come into town for the wedding of his ex-girlfriend, which he won’t just be attending, he’ll actually be participating in. And as if being in the wedding of an ex isn’t enough, Drew’s pity date backed out at the last minute so he’s facing attending these oh-so-awkward nuptials minus a plus-one.
And so an idea is born.
Alexa can go as his date.
But it will be just that.
One wedding weekend, and then they part ways.
Well, if you’ve ever seen a rom com – most specifically the rom com with which this book shares a name – you’ve probably already guessed that it won’t work out as neatly as planned.
No, in the grand rom com form, this single weekend turns into one of many, as they develop feelings for each other that are so intense – so uncontrollable – so unexpected – that they have no choice but to fall, head first into a relationship.
So, in terms of an escape, did this book work?
That’s a hard – and disappointing – kinda.
Working in its favor was the fact that Alexa was a “real” woman.
In a bit of a break from the norm, we weren’t presented with another leading lady who “can just never find love” despite wearing a size two and having both Pantene Pro-V commercial level hair and flawless – read, poreless – skin. Nor are we given a we-are-going-to-pretend-she’s-fat-but-she’s-not-really-fat heroine, as in one of my personal favorites – sorry, Bridget, 130 pounds? Not on my best day.
The “flaws” and feelings the author attached to Alexa made her a largely likeable character so, despite how unlikely the relationship between her and Drew might be – and how inevitable heartbreak seemed – you really did want it to work out for them.
But the protagonist was pretty much all this book had going for it.
Okay, the protagonist and the cover. The cover was also pretty nice. Because I judge books by their covers. Because that’s a normal thing that all people do.
Anyways, the weaknesses were quite significant and unmitigated.
My first issue, the plot.
I had expected the elevator entrapment and wedding weekend to, essentially, make up the majority of this book.
But they didn’t.
Our protagonist and her love interest managed to both escape the elevator and navigate all the weekend’s wedding festivities by about a quarter of the way through the book.
So, what happened for the other three-quarters?
Well, pretty much just weekend after weekend of flying back and forth to see each other – doing nothing during these visits but eat (donuts, mainly) and have sex.
It’s all very fancy and very metropolitan and very something-that-a-rugged-successful-I-run-on-the-beach-in-the-free-time-wipe-the-sand-from-my-rock-hard-abs-pediatrician would do, but it also felt too divorced from reality.
Don’t you guys have things to do that don’t involve penises and pastries?
Aren’t you tired of sex now?
And, most importantly, how the fuck do you have so many frequent flyer miles?
The other impediment to my enjoyment of this book was just as significant – the overall writing style.
The prose as a whole was rather clunky and functional.
Let me preface that critique by saying I did afford what I would consider a substantial amount of leeway. Yes, this is supposed to be a simple and fun romance, not a complex exploration of the human condition, but even when a novel’s entire purpose is to provide an escape, I, personally, expect a bit more fluidity and grace in the writing.
Unfortunately, neither were present here.
The fact that I went into this book with such high expectations almost certainly intensified my eventual disappointment.
I wanted so badly for this cutesy-tale of an elevator-born love to be the escape that I sought.
But, alas, it fell short for me.
As I read, I kept thinking, "Is this over yet?"
And that's never a good sign.
It's like when my son starts negotiating how many more bites of his casserole he needs to take before he can be done.
It means he doesn't like it.
When I long for the end of a book, it means I enjoyed it about as much as my 3rd grader enjoyed the tuna noodle concoction his father piled, a bit too enthusiastically, on his plate.
With a lack of keenness that surprises even myself, I give this one 2 out of 5 cocktails.
Next up for me is another soon-to-be-released romance from the same publisher. Fortunately, I’ve already started, and it’s hitting all the right notes, so far.
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When’s the last time you were disappointed by a book? And which book disappointed you? Tell me about it in the comments, below.