Rating: 3.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
After discovering love in An Unconventional Courtship, Kincaid International Corporation’s CEO, Webber Kincaid, and his executive assistant, Tristan Moreau, return home to find that Webber is the subject of an SEC and Department of Justice investigation over illegal business transactions by his company’s CFO. A CFO who threatens to out the couple unless they cover for his activities. Faced with the ruination of their reputations and that of the company his father built, Webber Kincaid prepares to fight back and help the SEC and Justice Department with their investigations.
But while their business world is chaotic, their personal relationship has never been better now that they have finally admitted they love each other. In fact, Webber has proposed and Tristan accepted and a Martha’s Vineyard wedding is now under preparation. As the wedding date gets closer, Tristan knows he has to let go of his past and tell Webber about his family and the secrets he has kept hidden and both men decide to out themselves to Webber’s board of directors and the world. With so many obstacles in front of them, Webber and Tristan must stand together, love intact, to make it through their wedding and their HEA.
I normally love Scotty Cade’s books and found his Mystery of Ruby Lode to be exceptional. So even without reading the first book in this series, I was looking forward to An Unconventional Union. Unfortunately what I found was a book that could almost be divided into two totally different sections, each in a different genre. First let’s discuss the elements I did like about the story. This is a sweet love story between two men that took two years to develop due to a working relationship and their closeted status. While I did not read the first book, their courtship and accompanying issues are related to the reader as Tristan remembers how they got together at the beginning of this book, so the author gives us the backstory right from the beginning.
We enter the story shortly after Webber has proposed to Tristan and been accepted. The company’s financial problems are already established as well. Cade takes care to show how the men are dealing with all the changes around them as realistically as possible, including the impact on their new relationship and future wedding. I think this aspect of the book is really nicely done. The men are easy to relate to and they express their love easily and in a manner that makes their passion for each other authentic. There is a multitude of “I love you’s” and similar expressions of love, but considering their newfound status and approaching nuptials, I find that totally in keeping with the situation.
And at the end of the book, a traumatic event really brings the best out of Scotty Cade as a writer. It is heartwrenching, warm, and concisely told, really outstanding and the best part of this story. I only wish I could say the same about the majority of the book, because when you get down to it, perhaps less than half of An Unconventional Union relates to the plot. The other half? That is where my issues with this book come in.
For me, the majority of this story is a verbose, overly descriptive travel article on Martha’s Vineyard and The Inn and Restaurant at Lambert’s Cove. Every part of this is related in a dry lecture guaranteed to make your eyes glaze over. Here are Webber and Tristan on the plane researching the island:
This site says the first explorer to leave any real account of the island was Bartholomew Gosnold. He landed on the cape first, which he named Cape Cod from the abundance of codfish. Then he sailed southward and landed on a small island about six miles southeast of Gay Head. He named this small island Martha’s Vineyard. The next day he landed on the larger island, and after exploring it and finding luxuriant grape vines, many beautiful ponds and springs, he transferred the name and called it Martha’s Vineyard, in honor of his mother, whose name was Martha.
More than you probably needed to know, but not too bad. The worse is yet to come, because soon they arrive at The Inn at Lambert’s Cover (which seems to be standing in for a real place called Lambert’s Cove Inn & Restaurant). From the moment they set foot on the grounds, the reader is given a detailed inventory of each room, including foyers, every knickknack in the library, every…well I will let the book speak for itself:
From the moment he stepped inside, Tristan saw that the inn was just as the photos and description had portrayed. The foyer and surrounding rooms were decorated in what could only be considered English Country style. It was warm and inviting. To the left was a large parlor done in red, furnished with deep mahogany leather couches and warm red and gold plaid wingback chairs positioned in front of a large fireplace. To the right was a more formal room decorated in royal blue and greens with yet another massive fireplace. Tristan immediately pictured himself and Webber sprawled across that couch with a good book and a scotch in front of a roaring fire. He imagined the wind howling and a foot of snow on the ground and not having a care in the world while being safe and secure with the man he loved. He was snapped out of his daydream as another gentleman joined them.
And we are just getting started, now onto the bedroom.
Tristan stepped into the room first and was amazed at what he saw. It was what he would consider a quintessential New England-style room. The ceiling was a little lower than usual, and the room was painted in a warm coppery color with a muted tan and cream-colored striped fabric accented with a cream-colored damask. There was a four-poster bed with a canopy attached to a large ceiling medallion over the center of the bed gently cascading to each bedpost and draping to the floor, puddling at the base. There was a skirted table with two houndstooth plaid oversized wingback chairs and a large antique dresser opposite the bed. At the far end of the room was a bathroom with a deep soaking tub, and directly across was a walk-in closet.
Now imagine the same attention to detail when describing each foyer, concierge desk, and hallway and you should start to see the problem here. But wait, there’s more….
Here is Tristan looking out the bedroom window, they haven’t even made it into the gardens yet:
Tristan scanned the area outside of their window. Tall trees and hedges surrounded the expansive lawn offering total privacy and seclusion. To the left was a large square lion’s head fountain spitting water into a pool from four different directions. To the right was a white octagon-shaped gazebo with a cedar shake roof housing white wicker furniture with overstuffed cushions, obviously for relaxing and watching the day go by. “It really is beautiful.”
Now to be fair there are some lovely scenes with the couple making love or kissing interspersed between the decorator’s manual but still that is broken up by more of the same:
They walked in silence along a red brick path, hands still linked together tightly. Tristan turned his head from side to side as he took in the surroundings while he tried to calm his nerves. They passed an herb garden tucked away into a corner of the main house on the right, while on the left they approached a black lion’s head fountain spitting water into a pool nestled into a glorious wall of lilacs at least eight feet tall. Next, they crossed the front of the inn, walked through a white arbor, passed a koi pond, and sauntered across the lawn, finally stopping when they stepped into the gazebo. Webber released his hand and gestured for him to take a seat on the white wicker loveseat. Tristan sat and watched as Webber poured them each another glass of wine and took a seat next to him.
They can’t even go to dinner without the entire meal being displayed out before you, showing us what a gourmet restaurant should be serving.
As they walked toward the main house and restaurant, the sounds of Edith Piaf filled the air, reminding Tristan of a brief trip he’d taken to France. Once inside, Sam and Cavan put them at a lovely secluded table in the corner overlooking the pool area. Webber ordered a vintage bottle of Bourgogne Rouge VV “Maison Dieu” Domaine de Bellene, and their night officially began. They started with oysters on the half shell, then as an appetizer Webber ordered grilled white peaches with imported prosciutto, shaved red cabbage, and micro greens, and Tristan ordered steamed mussels in caramelized ginger, green onions, and coconut milk. For entrees, Webber had the seared sea scallops and Tristan horseradish-dusted veal. Sam and Cavan took turns seamlessly stopping by to make sure everything was to their liking, but never lingered long enough to intrude on their privacy. They finished the meals off by sharing a Belgian chocolate molten lava cake and a bottle of Ruffino Moscato d’Asti Italian dessert wine.
We don’t get descriptions of how the meal tasted, the aroma that wafted off the grilled peaches, nothing to make our mouth water. We simply get a list of foods served, like a sample menu you would show people prior to checking in. For me this was a complete fail in terms of writing. All of these intermable passages describing the Inn’s decor, gardens, and restaurant only serve to kill any momentum in the plot that the author had achieved to that point in the story. Webber and Tristan start to discuss important issues in their relationship and boom, we are back to rows of shrubbery and black wrought iron lions.
We do get a slight break from the Architectural Digest treatment when they return to the city, but when they wed, it’s back to the Inn and more descriptions of the wedding ceremony and gardens at the Inn that would do a wedding planner proud. Seriously, a wedding planner could use this as a template for an upcoming wedding it is that complete. There is a small drama at the wedding and then back to the city where finally the heart of this story arrives never to leave. It is the final pages of An Unconventional Union that raised this story up to 3.25 stars.
So while I will continue to read Scotty Cade, I will give this series a pass. I love descriptions of places and things when they make sense, are concise, and written with passion. And although I know Cade must love Martha’s Vineyard as he lives there, none of that comes across in the dense narrative given to us here.
Cover: Reese Dante’s cover is gorgeous, I love the models and the landscape, perfect for the story within.