- Read my review of the first book in the London Calling series, Boyfriend Material
The structural premise of this book, four weddings and a funeral, is spelled out in the blurb. Between that setup, genre expectations over how a second story about an established relationship will play out, and the title itself, we go in with a pretty good idea of how this book will go. But Luc is nothing if not predictably and unpredictable, and Hall manages plenty of delightful surprises along the way.
I’m a sucker for weddings, so I was looking forward to all four even before I knew who they were for (though three are fairly evident, set up by characters introduced in the previous book). And the drama hits the fan from the very first one, in which Luc is the maid of honor for his best friend Bridge. Events from the bachelorette party to the ceremony itself are over the top and entertaining, and Hall incorporates much about these characters and the narrative style that I loved from the previous book without anything feeling stale or repetitive.
Even while I felt a tiny bit bad for the travails Bridge and Tom experience in the final leadup to their big day, I also kind of hoped that we would enjoy this amount of ridiculous drama for every wedding in the book. Hall has a gift for throwing absurd yet completely realistic problems (AND solutions) at his characters. These external issues could have easily distracted from the heart of the story, but Hall also keeps the true focus on Luc, Oliver, and their connection throughout. After all, some of the truest tests of a relationship are vacationing together and attending other people’s weddings. These events provide some final closure for Luc regarding issues from the first book while also revealing potential new conflicts.
One of the biggest problems Hall faced when writing this story is how to make the reader fear for the future of Luc and Oliver’s happily ever after since dragging them out of the sunset and returning them to real life for a sequel. A narrative about the wedding preparation killing the marriage before it begins is cliché enough that I doubted Hall would take that route, and I was pleased to be proven right. This is where the funeral comes in. I won’t spoil who it is for, but it is not for any of the characters I initially assumed. Derailing so many thematic beginnings with a solid ending brought depth to this novel and allowed Oliver to also confront actual character issues originally presented near the end of book 1 as more of a supporting plot element. My only significant quibble about this book is how we are limited to Luc’s narrative here. I also adore Oliver enough that I would have appreciated much of his character development from his point of view instead of filtered through Luc’s personality and biases.
Every romance novel is at its core a story about a relationship. However, not many romance stories actually interrogate the point and true function of that relationship. Hall layers the multiple weddings in this book into an ongoing commentary between the heroes about the need for and meaning behind the various styles of pageantry, which is in turn a necessary discussion between any couple about what they want from their own “special day”—and want and need from their own relationship. In an amazing final twist, Luc and Oliver finally settle on their answers to both questions. In the style I’ve come to expect from this series and these characters, it is unexpectedly expected. And absolutely perfect.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.