The Wedding Night by Kati Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
»O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!« (Horatio in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, act 1, scene 5.)
And so is this novel! Though it has some truly great ideas, they are often immediately overshadowed by banality and crudeness… Before I get ahead of myself, though, let me quickly state that this is it (for now) with Christmas romances but I came across the title – “The Wedding Night Before Christmas” – and couldn’t help myself but read it.
Beyond its strangeness, this was a winner for me and this is mostly due to the extremely relatable Audrey “Motherfuckin’” Clarke – how could I not root for her?!
»Two documents, exactly the same—except one was stapled on the diagonal, and the other stapled vertically.
Who does that? Only a monster.«
(Indeed, Audrey, and isn’t it almost as bad if the staple is not either precisely vertical, horizontal or – best of all! – on a precise 45° diagonal?!)
Audrey, the female protagonist and rock upon which this novel safely rests, is a capable, powerful, intelligent, self-made rich, attractive and neurodivergent woman.
»I’m not cold. But I don’t express myself in the same way many people do. I can barely tolerate people touching me or touching them in return. Affection isn’t physical for me; it’s mental and emotional. So I show affection by showing interest—and it’s impossible for me to feign interest if I don’t care about what someone is talking about or doing. But even when I do care, I know my manner comes off as lacking in warmth. If I could act, maybe I could fake it. But I’m not any better at pretending than I am at lying. So I can’t be anything other than who I am.«
Caleb, the male protagonist, approaches Audrey because he needs her financial backing to get even with a family who is trying to sue him out of his inheritance. His unconventional idea: He proposes marriage to Audrey and she accepts on the spot.
At this point, I looked up the author, Kati Wilde, to see if I had accidentally stumbled into a male wish-fulfilment fantasy…
Caleb also swears all the time. For no fucking reason at all. In every second sentence. I’m not fucking exaggerating. And he has a “slight” personality problem:
»Personality-wise, I’m a vulgar asshole at my worst, and miles away from Prince Charming at my best.«
This becomes especially grating when very nice ideas…
»A fantasy that takes a warped perception I had of her, one that hurt her and ate me up with guilt, and turns that pain into something that’ll give us both pleasure.«
… drastically clash with Caleb’s swearing and crudeness.
»She told me to dress for a date, so I settled for what was clean and might stand up to the cold outside. And I suppose I look like some giant lumberjack escorting a sexy fairy princess into this damn party, but I can’t bring myself to give a shit if we don’t match.«
And yet, this novel worked for me because the chemistry between Audrey and Caleb is simply great and he never feels threatened by Audrey’s self-confidence or outward powerfulness. As any decent partner should, Caleb supports Audrey, takes her needs and challenges seriously, and vice versa.
I would have loved to get to read a little more about Audrey as a successful business woman, about her assistants, Jessica and Jeremy, and some other side characters which are sadly neglected.
This is a very, very hot, spicy and steamy novel. I liked it but if you prefer a “fade-to-black” approach, this is very definitely not “your” novel… Also, versus the end, there’s more sex than anything else and I found myself wishing to read more about those two in non-sexual contexts.
Especially since there are quite a few open questions that aren’t addressed by the epilogue (“Five years later”) either: What becomes of the Wyndhams? What does Caleb do with his inheritance? What about Audrey’s parents?
Despite being seriously annoyed by Caleb at times, I didn’t like putting this one down.
Four out of five stars.
Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam
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The Wedding Night by Kati Wilde