The Accidental Wedding
By Anne Gracie
Release Date: October 5, 2010
When I first read The Stolen Princess, Book #1 in Anne Gracie’s Devil Riders series, I emailed the author telling her how much I loved the book and how much I hoped the series would include not only books for the other Devil Riders but also for Gabriel’s brothers Nash and Marcus, whom I found intriguing. The Accidental Wedding is Nash’s book, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.
One measure of excellence in a romance writer is her ability to take the conventions of the genre and make them seem fresh. Amnesia plots have a long history in romance fiction. In my own reading, I can trace them back to Emilie Loring’s Behind the Clouds (1958). Yet when Gracie has Nash awaken in bed with Maddy, on the other side of her hastily improvised and all-too-vulnerable Hadrian’s Wall, the reader is so fully engaged with these characters in their moment that no awareness of plot conventions intrudes.
In the bleakest hour of the night, the man in the bed woke. He lay in the unfamiliar surroundings, trying to make sense of his situation. He had no idea where he was, no idea when he was, for that matter, except it was nighttime. But what day and what place—it was a mystery. His mind was a blank.
Not a blank he corrected himself, more like a swirling fog, with people and events half glimpsed and then vanishing. Taunting him.
. . . .
A woman. At the heart of all the swirling thoughts and fleeting images, he knew there was a woman. With gentle hands and a soft voice. And the smell of . . .
He turned on his side and breathed in. He could scent her. Like a hound, he could scent that she was close.
He wasn’t alone.
Gracie has created some of the best heroines in romance fiction. The heroine of TAW joins Kate Farleigh (Gallant Waif), Thalia Robinson (Tallie’s Knight), Hope Merridew (The Perfect Waltz), and Lady Helen (Nell) Freymore (His Captive Lady) on this list. Maddy Woodford is a strong, active heroine, and one of my favorite scenes shows her extraordinary strength beautifully. Country girl Maddy has just discovered that Nash is considering giving up the diplomat’s life he loves. The predictable outcome to her discovery would be for her to run away, refusing to marry Nash—for his own good, of course. A lesser writer might have chosen this response. Instead, Gracie has Maddy stand her ground in a glorious scene in which she assures Nash of her competence to deal with his life. She declares, “You and I will make an excellent team. And we’re going to be very happy.” I love her confidence and courage!
There is so much more I could praise about this book, but I’ll limit myself to three things I expect in books by this author.
• Nobody is better than Anne Gracie at evoking tears and laughter within a single story. Marcus’s confusion about Nash’s boots (no details for fear of spoilers) had me laughing out loud, a tender scene with Maddy, Nell, and baby Torie left me misty-eyed, and various scenes with Nash and Maddy’s orphaned siblings made me giggle through tears.
• In a time when the very word “romance” often seems to be synonymous with steam and sizzle, the building of sexual tension can be a lost art. But in TAW, Gracie employs all the shades of passion from first blush through afterglow to show Maddy and Nash’s developing love.
• Another Gracie trademark is unforgettable secondary characters. The maid Lizzie with her ambitions and lost love is a particularly appealing character, and the siblings—Maddy’s and Nash’s—all emerge as individuals.
The only false note is the inept villain who is more distraction than development. He accounts for the half-star deduction, but I continue to be a Devil Rider groupie who adores Nash only a heartbeat less than Harry and am well past eager for the stories of Marcus and Luke.