Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Justin Capella, son and baker at his family’s up scale bakery, and Roman Montgomery, floral scion, haven’t seen each other since that fateful day in third grade when a single kiss shocked Justin and sent Roman to boarding school. But fate, a gay celebrity wedding combined with their bigoted fathers conspire to bring them back together once more.
When a high-profile gay celebrity couple, a TV news anchor and a famous lawyer, decide that they want the two most popular and well established vendors, Montgomery Floral and Cakes by Capella, to provide their wedding cake and flowers , they are not prepared for the owners of those firms to refuse because they are a gay couple. In the aftermath of the bad publicity and promise of multiple lawsuits , a resulting boycott threatens to shut down both companies. With their fathers stepping aside, its up to their sons to save both family businesses. And while they are struggling to do so, Justin and Roman rediscover love while working on the wedding.
Law Enforcement Officers Brandt and Donnelly are working with a statewide task force for the rights of LGBT citizens even as they search out their own wedding planner. As guests at the celebrity wedding, they are present when things start to go wrong. There’s something more sinister than bigotry afoot at the wedding. When someone dies, its up to fellow cops and soon to be married partners, to save the day, save the date and help another young couple find their own HEA.
A Wedding to Die For is not only my first Brandt and Donnelly story, but its also the first book I’ve read by Xavier Mayne. I found it to be fun, mostly lighthearted, with some serious truths buried beneath the fondant and icing. The author and story assumes you have read the previous novels that introduces fellow state law officers and lovers, Ethan Brandt and Gabriel Donnelly, along with assorted friends that include the flaming, over-the-top Bryce and his buddy/lover? Nestor. A Wedding To Die For picks up with Ethan and Gabriel already engaged and looking to make arrangements for their own wedding. Immediately their flamboyant, enthusiastic besties get involved and perhaps a third of the book involves the various sundry and quite awful wedding planners Brandt and Donnelly are sent to by their friends. This section of the book is shear comedy and would work well on its own as such. But when folded into more serious elements it acts as more of a distraction than a meaningful plot thread.
Another section, the best part of this story actually, is told from the perspectives of both Justin and Roman, two boyhood friends separated by trauma and their fathers. I actually wished this had been a separate book. Justin and Roman’s story has a poignancy and realism missing from the rest of this novel. We meet them as they reunite over the disasters their fathers have made of their family businesses and reputations, and then slowly through conversations and recalled memories does their own pasts start to reveal itself. The anguish and pain comes through beautifully as does the hope and possibility of healing their wounds. I adored both characters of Justin and Roman, they feel believable and their actions as young men growing up in their family companies comes across as authentic. I found myself actually flipping past sections just to get back to this pair and their problems.
The rest of the book is told by Brandt and Donnelly, who I just couldn’t take seriously as any type of law enforcement officers. Whether it was their behavior in front of the captain or out as representatives of the task force, their dialog, and actions tended to veer towards camp instead of that of believable cops. I felt that was a shame as there is some very serious issues playing out here, and not just the companies that refuse to cater towards the LGBTQ public when doing business. Plot threads also address what happens when married gay couples visit states that don’t recognize them as married, especially when tragedy strikes. To have all these very serious issues surrounded by froth and lighthearted fun takes away the gravity and pain that occurs as part of the consequences of a patchwork quilt of LGBTQ equality.
A Wedding To Die For has multiple points of view, a myriad of voices, and almost too many storylines. Truthfully, I really committed to one, that of Justin and Roman and found the rest to be just too silly, especially when stacked up against the other. But Justin and Roman are so memorable and sympathetic that I wished for more of these two and their relationship down the line. But not everyone will feel that way. Others may feel the silliness and froth is just the thing to take the sting off the reality of some of the meanness and bigotry still so much a part of our lives and this story. I will leave it up to you to decide.
If you like light and frothy fun, you will love this story. If you want a heartfelt romance, then read it for Justin and Roman. It’s a short, quick read with entertaining or moving elements for just about everyone.
Cover Artist L.C. Chase did a nice job here. I think that’s Justin and Roman on the cover, and the wedding elements are a great addition.
ebook, 250 pages
Published December 15th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleA Wedding to Die For
seriesBrandt and Donnelly Caper #3
BRANDT AND DONNELLY CAPERS
Case File One: Frat House Troopers
Case File Two: Wrestling Demons
Case File Three: A Wedding to Die For