THE SCANDALOUS ADVENTURES OF THE SISTER OF THE BRIDE – Victoria Alexander
England, Millworth Manor, 1887
Lady Delilah Hargate, while in New York, decides she wants an ‘adventure' from her straight-laced proper life as an entitled lady of English society. Dressed as a Dresden shepherdess at a masquerade, she leaves the party to spend the night with the handsome Mister Samuel Russell, a rugged American employed by Grayson Elliot, the fiancé of her sister Camille. Delilah doesn't want the scandalous reputation her sister Beryl earned in widowhood. Their mother had made sure her daughters married wealthy, older, and titled men; now all three are widows. Delilah knows a woman's future well-being depends on such decisions. She plans to find another husband like her first once she returns to England. She never expects to see Sam again, yet he shows up at Millworth Manor eighteen days before Camille's wedding.
Sam, who is recovering from his fiancée breaking their engagement after she found a richer candidate, accepts Delilah's decision that their one-night is the end of their acquaintanceship. He wanted more, but concedes to the lady's decree. He is a wealthy, self-made man bent on taking advantage of the new horseless carriage phenomenon with his good friend Grayson. He and Grayson hope to attract rich investors at the pre-wedding activities.
Delilah is an interesting character, if initially not a very likeable one. She comes off as haughty, a woman more interested in a man's wealth and status than character. Even though this might be close to the truth about Victorian marriages, it makes her difficult for the reader to wish on Sam. Her behavior on meeting Sam at Millworth Manor makes her even more disagreeable. She is extremely resistant to Sam's evident interest. In the meantime, Sam will come off to readers as the dream catch. His interference in her affairs leads the reader to understand Delilah's true character and to accept her troubles and circumstances—surely Sam has a rolling a rock uphill romance!
In between the Delilah-Sam quarrels, the wedding preparations for distraught bride-to-be Camille progresses with a few hitches, added to those of Sam's determination to introduce the horseless carriage to potential investors, effectively add situational humor. Interesting characters, many from previous stories, engage in witty conversations, repartee, and jibes. With so many different directions, the book seems to drag out somewhat, but remains an entertaining romance about discovering the best man in a status and manners driven society.