by Barbara Dawson Smith

April 2004
ISBN: 0-312-98230-5
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

The Wedding Night begins with an intriguing prologue. A diary insertion, the reflections of a fifteen year old girl on her wedding night. Who’d experienced a mortifying (I’m grinning), confrontation with a tall, darkly handsome older man. The cad is her husband, who attempted to make indecent advances on her person.

February 1816, the Duke of Chiltern had sold his daughter, Lady Cassandra Grey into marriage to cover his enormous gambling debts. Samuel Firth, the illegitimate unwanted son of George Kenyon, Marquees of Stokeford, was the lucky buyer—his motivation? Revenge. The Marquis had died, but his grandmother and three legitimate half brothers lived on and Samuel blamed them for indignities suffered throughout his life. Appallingly too, Samuel’s mother, an actress, loved the Marquis until the day she died. Samuel however, was cunning and street smart, amassing a fortune. Enough to rival his fathers. Lady Cassandra was icing on the cake, his ticket into London society.

After his attempt to consummate the marriage, Samuel realizes Cassandra is too young and too innocent, he would give her time to grow up. Cold-heartedly he informs her that he will depart the next day for a long journey around the world. He stays away for four years. But when he receives a legal deed of separation from his estranged wife, he is forced to return.

In his absence, Cassandra grew into a beautiful, talented woman. A published writer of a romance novel entitled The Black Swan. The villain in this romance was modeled after her husband. The reprehensible knave who’d attacked her on their wedding night after purchasing her like a slave. While Samuel is gone, Cassandra acquires a horde of faithful followers, including her young cousin, who has inherited the Dukedom from her father after his death and his two foppish friends. These devotees are quite unhappy with Samuel’s return. In addition, a secret admirer is in the mix and his unveiling adds some suspense to the story.

Barbara Dawson Smith, a gifted writer, captures your interest, especially with the excerpts of the story within the story of the Black Swan. But, that wasn’t enough to hold it. I’ve asked myself why? I believe, the answer is, The Wedding Night reads like a drama, but begs to be a comedy. And the comedic elements started with the prologue and continued with the secondary characters. Although, I never laughed . . .but I wanted to. I liked our hero, and enjoyed Cassandra to a point. Metaphors of her beauty, and naïveté became a little monotonous. The bold descriptions of Samuel’s lust for Cassandra were quite sexy, but the author wants you to believe she’s naïve. So when his lust finally comes to fruition, what happens? This naïve nineteen-year-old girl suddenly becomes a wanton tigress. I just couldn’t buy it.

Overall, it was an okay read, just not a really great one. Perhaps others may not find the "lack" of humor, lacking. But this reader believes The Wedding Night, took itself too seriously.

Reviewed in March 2004 by Janice.

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