When her brother, Ned, is killed during a top-secret mission for England, Emma was devastated. She is further distressed by the conditions of her brother's will - Ned stipulated that Emma's funds were to be controlled by Alasdair until she married. Since Emma has barely spoken a word to Alasdair since their break-up 2 years ago, she finds having to deal with Alasdair on a daily basis unbearable. This situation prompts Emma to rashly challenge Alasdair that she will marry the first man who asks for her hand, and not only that, but invite a lover into her bed in order to free herself of Alasdair's control. She even sets a date for when she will wed - February 14th, the feast of St. Valentine.
To add further tension, the classified government papers that cost Ned his life were mistakenly sent to Emma in the guise of a poem. Emma has no idea she holds vital information that could change the course of the war. The game gets dangerous when the man who is searching for the document Emma holds is closer to her than she thinks! Emma is oblivious to the fact that her life may be in danger or that Alasdair is the only one who may be able to save her before the unthinkable happens.
I found it rather annoying that the circumstances that ended the engagement between Emma and Alasdair weren't revealed until almost halfway through the book and that it was treated as though it was some sort of revelation. The only purpose this served was to make their hostility towards each other very confusing to the reader. Furthermore, for all of the importance given to this "problem" that caused the end of their betrothal, it was never sufficiently resolved by the end of the book. The matter was treated as though it no longer existed.
It would have been interesting to have more focus on Emma's promise to marry by February 14th rather than so much centered on the search for the missing documents. It would have been entertaining to see Emma desperate to find a mate, who of course could never equal Alasdair. Unfortunately though, after Emma's initial impulsive pledge to marry by the deadline of February 14th, the matter was hardly mentioned again.
Emma is shown to be independent, intelligent and not overly concerned with society's conventions. However, these traits she supposedly has contradicted the way she handled matters on several occasions, which made her actions seem unrealistic. There was the opportunity to make Alasdair a very interesting character, but Ms. Feather barely brushed the surface of his background and neither did she delve too deeply into his personality.
Emma and Alasdair had many similar interests, mutual sexual attraction and a long-standing acquaintance. But since they rarely seemed to be able to have a civil conversation with one another, I found myself questioning the extent of their feelings for one another. Furthermore, Emma seemed quick to believe the worst of Alasdair in every instance. Since unquestioning love between the principal characters is the most important aspect of any romance, this doubt more than anything influenced my rating of A Valentine Wedding.