‘A year since she was dumped by her fiancé, the last thing Reggie Somerville wants is to come back home for Christmas. But when her parents announce their plans for a lavish Christmas wedding she has no choice. She expects to face town gossip, she does not expect to run into her first love Toby, or deal with the feelings he stirs in her…
Dena Somerville is single and pregnant-on purpose. Wanting a family her way she’s determined to do it alone. She didn’t expect the distraction of a handsome musician checking into her inn-and one snow-kissed moment-to make her question what she really wants this Christmas…
As the Christmas wedding draws closer, these two sisters may just find the most unexpected gift of all—love.’
The Christmas Wedding Guest is a cute and fun read that primarily follows the lives of sisters Reggie and Dena, who have both have both been rather unlucky in love – or have had the misfortune to become involved with people who have treated them rather poorly or simply haven’t turned out to be someone that they wish to spend the rest of their lives with. Dena has decided to take as much control over her future as she can, and so has chosen to have a baby through artificial insemination, while, after her fiancé called things off only a day after celebrating their engagement, Reggie has tried to put the past behind her and has a job that she enjoys and a motherly devotion to her dog, Belle. When their parents decide that they are going to hold a ceremony to renew their vows, decades after a rather low-key wedding, Reggie finds herself headed home to Wishing Tree, where she anticipates questions and gossip will follow her. What neither Dena nor Reggie expect is to find their attention drawn from wedding plans and to new loves, one old, one a stranger.
The story is one that ultimately focuses on family, starting with Dena and Reggie’s relationship, which binds the different threads of the narrative together, and takes a look the generations within families, what it is to be a single parent, loss, community and what time has to teach. Though the sisters embark on quite different journeys and have their own individual narratives, there is no disconnect and they don’t feel like separate stories, and neither does it become a case of favouring one character over another. I do tend to end up liking one story thread or character point of view quite often, but, in the case of The Christmas Wedding Guests, I really enjoyed reading the sections belonging to Reggie, Dena, and their respective prospective partners, and wasn’t racing to get back to a particular character. They are all characters that are easy to care for and want positive endings for, each sympathetic and likeable even through their occasional missteps.
I loved Belle and her role in the story, and she plays an instrumental role in bringing Reggie, Toby and his son, Harrison, together, after taking a shine to the latter and instating herself as his loyal guard and protector, despite often being frightened by the world around her (especially certain dachshunds…). Belle reads like a character in her own right, and Reggie’s affection for her is adorable and speaks volumes about her own. Toby and Reggie’s story explores what it is to return to a relationship with a good many more years’ experience behind you, learning about what you may have been too young (or too immature) to notice and truly understand before, and the hold the past may have on you – and how you respond to the prospect of a future you find frightening.
Dena is the sister who likes to plan, and, after deciding that she is unlikely to be able to find ‘the one’ in time to have a family, has chosen to build a family of her own without a partner, something that she is confident and comfortable in. From her family and friends, she receives nothing but support, but, as the story unfolds, not everyone is as kind, and she can’t quite escape society’s idea that a single woman with a child is ‘condemning’ herself to a life on her own. Thankfully, Micah sidesteps the cliché of a man taking an interest in a woman, only to find himself uninterested upon discovering she’s pregnant, and is as supportive of her as her nearest and dearest are from the start. He doesn’t judge her decision and does his best to help her with things such as morning sickness, having learnt from some very recent losses, and their working together at the school to bring music into the classroom is a lovely feature of the story.
The Christmas Wedding Guest is a an uplifting, romantic story with community at its heart, and is the perfect festive read. Thank you to Mills and Boon for sending me a copy and for the chance to be part of the blog tour!