TW: Violence, emotional manipulation, divorce (despite this, it's a beautiful story!)
I adored A Wedding in December; it’s the perfect family Christmas read and had me experiencing the full gamut of emotions. It was so good that I read it in one sitting — though I did pause at one point to tell me husband that if these two characters don’t end up together, I would be Most Upset.
A Wedding in December follows the relationships, joys, and challenges in the White family in the run up to Christmas. Rosie, the youngest and most spontaneous daughter, is preparing for her whirlwind wedding on Christmas Eve. The event will be held in Aspen, Colorado — breaking a family tradition of always having Christmas at Honeysuckle Cottage, Oxfordshire: the family home. Katie, the older daughter, is a doctor in a busy accident and emergency department in London. Recovering from an injury that her family doesn’t know about, she assumes her sister is making the wrong choice, and, wanting to protect Rosie, sets out to stop the wedding. Add to this the fact that their parents, Maggie and Nick, have decided to divorce — but haven’t told anyone yet — and the story is set.
I loved the characters in this book. They’re all well-rounded and get under your skin. I cared about each of them, even Katie who, at times, came across as brittle and self-absorbed, hell-bent on her own assumptions regarding the love between Rosie and Dan. I loved how her steely, pragmatic nature bumped up against the easy-going strength of Jordan, the best man, and the chemistry between them slowly built up during the course of the story.
Then there’s Maggie and Nick, the divorcing parents, who go to hilarious lengths to try and shield their daughters from the truth — they will tell them, only after the wedding. This doesn’t entirely go to plan in more ways than one, and offered lots of comedic elements which were a welcome balance to Katie’s injury storyline, which we are drip-fed across the course of the story, and which is brutal and shocking, but thankfully not as awful as I had feared.
Rosie and Dan are a lovely couple and you can see why they fell head-over-heels for each other. I appreciated how Dan and his best man, Jordan, featured in the story and had arcs of their own. I loved the tension and developing friendship between Maggie and Dan’s mother, Catherine, too, as well as Nick coming out of his academic shell for the first time in years.
The setting was perfect, and the snowy Aspen countryside — as well as Snowfall Lodge — made for a perfect backdrop. The forest, the treehouses, the surrounding environment, were all so well described that I really felt like I was there, observing the action. I loved the description of Honeysuckle Cottage as well, and felt like it was a place I wanted to visit.
Katie’s meddling was difficult to read at times. I know she was trying to protect her sister, but her own experiences were playing far too much on her emotions, and she was projecting a lot of her fears and worklife-observations onto Rosie and Dan’s relationship, which wasn’t fair. At the same time, though, I could understand her emotional manipulation and the reasons for it, so allowed her some kindness when I was following her efforts to stop the wedding. I also had to bite my tongue during the early scenes between Maggie and Nick — secrets and lies don’t work and don’t lie hidden for long; you’d think they would know this! But it did make for entertaining reading, if a bit exasperating — though Sarah Morgan handled all this beautifully, with her trademark warmth and optimism.
I felt the romantic scenes in the novel were handled very well, and not at all excessive or gratuitous. They had a natural rhythm and flow within the story and were a delight to read. The plot was tight and well written, with empathy and wit. I confess that I am a Sarah Morgan addict and have read many of her books in the past so perhaps I am a bit biased! I really enjoyed A Wedding in December and it was so engrossing in terms of waiting to see if the wedding would go ahead, and how the various relationships would (or would not) blossom. I was completely absorbed and stayed up until 3:30am to finish.. Not untypical for a Sarah Morgan novel!
This book was a delightful exploration of family dynamics, love, romance, secrets, suffering, and redemption. The snowy backdrop and Christmas season add extra magic to the story and wedding plans, and I wouldn’t hesitate in highly recommending this book for your wintertime reading. It’s a perfect gift, too!
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, HQ, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Furthermore, in the interests of transparency, I know the author via Facebook.