Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: 'The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride' by Victoria Alexander


This novel is certainly interesting as it takes place at the cusp of time when automobiles were being introduced as a potential progressive invention for the times. As with anything new, there are bumps and setbacks along the way, which goes hand in hand with the romance between Delilah and Sam. The dance of courtship is ever so complicated when one of them isn’t too keen on risk and the other thrives on it. How can the two come together? That’s the charm of The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride.
Appearances deceive and that’s the intent of Lady Hargate. No one can know about her need and eventual fulfillment of a grand amorous adventure. It’s … unseemly. However, it helps a reader understand just how constrained and suppressed Delilah is. She is a woman mired in tradition and convention, yet deep in her heart, she yearns for the ultimate adventure, love. What stops her is fear. She has good reason to fear based upon what a reader learns of her life thus far. But then, she uses it as a crutch and it almost costs her the very thing that she wants most, Sam.
Sam is an American and the hero of the story. He’s not too flummoxed by the British way of looking at things. What confounds him the most is Delilah. She says one thing, does another, pushes him away and yet draws him like a moth to a flame. What’s a poor guy to do? Sam isn’t averse to taking risks and a reader is treated to some fascinating scenes when his attempts pay off.
What helps Sam are the secondary characters; family and friends of Delilah’s, who believe he is the best thing that could happen to the very prim and proper heroine. Based upon references and scenes sprinkled throughout this novel, it’s part of a series and since I’ve not read any others, I’m comfortable with stating this is a standalone read. I did not become lost at any point because the focus remains on Sam and Delilah’s exploits.
That being said, and while I understand Delilah’s dilemma and emotions, I felt that the story was sluggish in parts. So much time was spent on her introspection of why she could not do a certain thing or pursue Sam for a husband – it became rather tedious. Her constant harping on being ‘proper’ and putting on airs, even though it was probably how things were done back then, drove me, a 21st Century gal, absolutely barmy. When Sam called her a certain profane name at one point when their emotions were quite out of control, I wholeheartedly agreed. I grant Sam a lot of points for apologizing to her later because I would not have. Especially since the revelations about her first husband proved without a doubt that Sam would never ever be so crass as to keep secrets from her. He treated her like a person with a brain, yet she didn’t want that from a “perfect” husband? Thank goodness saner heads prevailed in this story.
Despite some lapses with Delilah’s personality issues, she had some strengths, ideas and dialogue that redeemed her. She’s going to make Sam a very happy man because she’s a very energetic wife, competitive, intelligent, witty and once she opens up to her feelings, honest. It’s the honesty and trust that will be the glue that will keep them together.
The happy ever after is satisfactory. In fact, it was Sam that saved it. I liked the outline of his presentation and the way he handled it. It was so like the hero that I laughed. He’s got her number.
The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride, was entertaining. For historical romance fans, Delilah’s adherence to social conventions of the time might very well appeal because they’ll understand more than most how things were. And who knows, that might make the heroine come across as more deliciously wicked than I took her for. But, I liked Sam, I enjoyed the story and I’d recommend this to other historical romance readers who look for stories that take place in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.