St. Martin's, Apr 2004, 6.99, 352 pp.
In 1816 Samuel Firth, illegitimate son of Marquess George Kenyon who spawned him and his mother, buys fifteen year old Lady Cassandra to be a bride. He chose Cassandra because she is the perfect blue blood to help him engineer his vengeance against his sire, but he also selected her because he was hooked when he saw her making angels in the snow. Samuel pays off the enormous debts that Cassandra's father accumulated.
On their wedding night, Samuel expected a somewhat reticent wife, but he found a frightened child with no idea what to expect waiting in bed with him. Instead of forcing himself on her, Samuel leaves. He travels the globe for the next four years looking at his business interests while waiting for his spouse to grow up.
Samuel returns but Cassandra is now an intelligent beautiful woman who has a circle of men paying their respects to her though she is not a flirt. Samuel informs her he will take his dividend soon, but instead they fall in love. However, a secret admirer plans to do anything to gain her hand including murder and abduction.
THE WEDDING NIGHT is a fine Regency romance that showcases the skills of Barbara Dawson Smith to use multiple settings for her tales. The story line is fun to follow as Samuel and Cassandra battle for “supremacy” in their relationship, a skirmish that neither can win solo, but both can triumph if they choose to win-win together. Though the villainous subplot adds suspense and provides a final impetus to bring the heroes in concert, it takes away from a powerful love story between two obstinate charmers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner