August O’Leary’s fiancé and the love of his life smashed his heart to bits eleven years ago. He’s tried picking up the pieces and, with the exception of never quite getting over Christopher Burke, August has been successful. Not quite thirty, he works for one of the premier event planning agencies in London and there are rumors of a New York branch opening. Landing a transfer back to his native America might just be August’s best chance at finally, maybe, hopefully learning to love again. All he has to do is wow his boss with one final society wedding between Libby and Edward.
When August goes to the initial meet and greet with the happy couple, he is blindsided by the best friend, best man, and best proxy for the too-busy-to-be-bothered groom Edward: Christopher Burke. One glance and all August’s carefully contained memories, good, bad, and ugly, start unraveling. If he were just forced to put up with Christopher every few months, weeks, or days in the countdown to Libby’s wedding, there may have been a way. Yet when Christopher begins pursuing August via simple text messages, August is ready to run lest his heart get broken all over again. Whatever Christopher’s regrets over having broken off their engagement might be, Christopher is still upper class and August is still working class and no amount of sweet texts can change those facts…or that Christopher cited class as the reason they could never actually be happy.
However, August never knew the whole of Christopher’s story. For the past eleven years, he’s been just as bereft of romance and love as August. What he knows now that he couldn’t understand as a university student is that, for him, August is it. The One. There is nothing Christopher won’t do for August and now, he’s will to defy class and family and common sense to prove it.
I really enjoyed this take on the wedding planner as love interest theme. Instead of building strife by having the wedding planner fall in love with one of the two people getting married, however, O’Shea works it in by giving August and Christopher a hefty history. Specifically, they’d met and fallen in love at university and Christopher proposed when they were seniors, only to break it all off at the behest of his class-obsessed mother. Even though the details about their relationship as university students are sparse, the way August is portrayed on page never let me doubt how deep his hurt was. Here’s a snippet of August when he realized just who will be involved in his next event-planning project:
That voice. The voice he’d heard for nearly three years of mornings, grumbly and soft against the back of his neck. The voice that he’d heard say “I love you” countless times. The voice that had told him, out of the blue, that he was done with August and the relationship that had been meant to last forever after the happiest ears of August’s life.
I also liked that we didn’t get the whole story just from August’s side. There are plenty of passages told from Christopher’s view. Despite what August’s assumptions are, the reader sees that Christopher is still trying to come to terms with what he did and why he did it. For all that Christopher is filthy stinking rich, he’s a bit socially awkward and it definitely affects how he relates to August and how he tries to win August back. Sometimes, he does come off as a bit…well, desperate. But at the same time, I got the feeling he genuinely loved August despite his actions. Here’s an excerpt of him after he’s just realized it is August helping plan his best friends’ wedding:
He’d never forget the last day they say each other. When Christopher had made the mistake of a lifetime, when he’d thought he was doing the right thing.
August wouldn’t have fit into his world, right? That’s what his mother and father had said. Christopher had been twenty-one and scared and in love and the worst pushover when his entire lifestyle and everything in it was being threatened. He’d believed them. August would never fit in.
But look at him. Just…look.
So these two are forced into an awkward dance that’s not several roadblocks along the way. Like when August begs his event-planner best friend/colleague to take over the account because August just cannot handle being around Christopher. Or the fact that Christopher is serious about at least having August back in his life, even if only as friends…and earns extra brownie points for never having deleted August’s phone number.
Most of the book is a sweet look into how these two long lost lovers manage to overcome past hurts and fall headlong into love for a second time. Little scenes along the way remind us that Christopher is still filthy rich and August isn’t from England. It was August’s potential job prospects that I was most keen to watch unfold and that is a key part of the plot. Except it’s not what forces either August’s or Christopher’s hands. Instead, the big climax in the plot comes via the actual groom in the story. Suddenly, August and Christopher are back at square one.
The result of this conflict wasn’t exactly a shock…but when I read this line, I started to wonder if maybe this wasn’t a HEA kind of book…
…A break up is a breakup, but both of my major breakups in my life have been with the same man, and both of them because he thought I wasn’t good enough for him or the people in his life. I just don’t know how many times I can stand hearing that.
August’s thoughts are painful to read…especially because, even as the reader who’s privy to a lot of Christopher’s thoughts, August is right. The idea that this coupling might actually be really dead-dead is reinforced by August’s family and friends who, now knowing Christopher has apparently dumped August twice, are convinced Christopher is a jerk not deserving of August. I was half geared up for a bittersweet end, but then O’Shea pulls out an HEA for everyone.
On the one hand, it didn’t seem beyond Christopher’s character to react as he did to win back August (again). On the other hand, it really did feel a bit rushed. With all the negative juju stirred up by virtually all the characters (August’s family happy that August is free of Christopher, Christopher’s own friends ragging on him for accidentally being stupid, August’s friends just being good friends but adding to the anti-Christopher camp), I didn’t feel like there was quite enough on-page reconciliation between the two. I get that they’re sort of star crossed lovers and from the get go, we understand that Christopher is The One for August and vice versa. But there was so little attention paid to how and why they are able to let go of past mistakes, I had a hard time going along with it.
That said, overall, I did quite enjoy the story. It’s got a lot of drama and a slightly different spin on the old wedding-planner-falls-in-love trope. I liked how the long lost lovers reunite, but the story throws us for a loop at the end and I just wish the resolution had been a little stronger.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.