Book Review: After the Wedding by Courtney Milan
I knew I would love Courtney Milan because of her hilarious and righteous Twitter account. I devoured
two four of her books in an embarrassingly short time, including After the Wedding,which is #2 of 7 in the Worth Saga.
“But here’s a bit of wisdom I’ve acquired over the years: However terrible women are, they’re usually better than men.”
“Thank you.” Mr Hunter folded his arms in annoyance.
“You’re welcome.” Mrs Martin smiled beautifully. “You’re entirely welcome. Come back if you ever need to hear it again.”
Camilla is a servant girl in a rector’s house, the most recent of 9 homes she has lived in after being estranged from her family. Adrian is pretending to be a valet in an effort to win over his uncle, Bishop Denmore, by spying on another bishop (the religious types don’t come off so great in this story!). Camilla and Adrian end up being married at gunpoint, and embark on a long journey to annul their marriage…. or not.
My thoughts on After the Wedding
The romance in After the Wedding is very sweet, and we’re going with the “strangers get married” trope here, or possibly the “strangers forced to work together to solve a common problem,” where the problem happens to be that they are married. Adrian is mixed race, his mother is white and his father is black. His white uncle, the bishop, has refused to recognize his family and Adrian thinks he can win his uncle over. Adrian is vulnerable, trusting, wise beyond his 22 years, and a natural leader. He has one surviving brother, the others having perished in the Civil War in America. Camilla has been psychologically abused, passed from house to house, and possibly abandoned by her family. By all accounts she should be psychologically damaged beyond repair, but in Adrian’s company (on their quest for an annulment after their literal shotgun wedding) she realizes that she is worthy of love.
“You can’t steal love…. You can only earn it. And I want to be the kind of person who can still believe, after all this time, that I will deserve it.” -Camilla in After the Wedding
The best and worst aspect of this book was that the characters are so compassionate and self-aware. These are not angst-ridden lovers, but adult humans who care for and respect others. The lack of angst and conflict and those difficult psychological growing pains that 20 and 22 year old people normally experience means that the book doesn’t have the OOMPH that it could. The conflict between the bishops happens largely in the background, and doesn’t really drive the novel either. I feel like Milan just liked these characters too much to make them act like needy jerks. I have to admit, I like them too and would hate to see them act like that. It is really nice reading about people who can heal and have compassion for others. I want to be more like that! But even though I know we should all want to hang out with our self-actualized friends, sometimes we need those loopy, immature friends to bring a little excitement.
Luckily Milan is a witty writer, and she has fun with the characters. There are some hilarious scenes, and some truly sweet moments between these characters. I loved the story of Adrian’s family, and I really adored (i.e. have a huge crush on) his brother. The romance is good but it’s not smutty. Oh and can we talk about how happy I am to see some interracial relationships in historical romance? I don’t want to lay the burden of racial harmony on Courtney Milan’s shoulders, or on the Romance genre in general, but reading this book felt a little bit like healing. The whiteness of the romance genre (and other genres) is suffocating and not historically accurate, reading books with non-white main characters is just a breath of fresh air.
If you’ve read the first book, Once Upon a Marquess, you’ll know this character already. Like most romance series, this book can be read as a stand-alone.
Courtney Milan writes great historical romance, and this book is going to satisfy her fans and new readers as well. Interracial romance, some great humor, and really smart characters make this book fun to read. The plot is almost too easily resolved because the characters are self-actualized and mature. But then again I flew through it in 2 days, so it’s not exactly boring. 4 stars!
My thanks to Courtney Milan for sharing an Advanced Readers Copy free of charge. My opinions are my own.