Alexander Thorpe and Lucy St. James were unofficially engaged to be married until Lucy flirted with another man in an attempt to make Alex jealous enough to propose for real. Instead, Alex insulted her and went off to war, unwilling to take a chance on marrying Lucy, only to return a cripple or not return to her at all. In spite of their less than amicable separation, both have been pining for each other for the past two years, but when Alex finally returned from the war, they obstinately continued to avoid each other.
One night, at a birthday party which they were both attending, Alex made an unconventional bet with Lucy's intoxicated brother, Hugh, on a card game. Hugh's only intent is to humiliate Alex in the same way he perceives that Lucy was humiliated when Alex left her. The plan definitely worked, but it also had the unintended consequence of reuniting this stubborn, headstrong pair who now have a second chance at love if they can only put aside their pride.
Glad Rags was a combination romantic comedy and reunion romance, both of which I usually enjoy, but this tale fell flat for me on both counts. I consider myself to have a pretty good sense of humor, but I thought this story was just rather silly. The author tries to build a case that Alex is a very attractive man and an honorable war hero, but I just couldn't get past the ridiculous notion of him being dressed in drag for more than half the narrative. Granted he had a decent reason, that of a lost bet, but it still came off as rather juvenile humor to me. I smiled in amusement maybe a couple of times, but the rest of the time, I was, for the most part, doing a lot of eye rolling.
Since Alex and Lucy had been separated for two years, in part due to Alex's service in the Crimean War, I thought there might at least be something for me grasp with their reunion, but I was sadly mistaken. I found the reasons for their separation to be mainly selfish and prideful and brought about by rather absurd miscommunications that could have been easily resolved with a simple heart-to-heart conversation. Once they do reunite, things move far too quickly, for the most part fueled by physical desire. In spite of their declaration of undying love, I never really felt any emotional connection between the two characters. I ended the story never feeling like their old issues were ever truly resolved either. They just continued to argue and vie for control in the relationship for the whole novella, which did not leave me with the feeling that these two could have a lasting happily-ever-after.
Considering that the anthology is about a wedding dress, I have to admit that I was also disappointed that this story did not even contain a wedding. Admittedly, having the guy wear the wedding dress was an interesting twist, but it just didn't work for me. In the end, I simply felt that the beautiful wedding gown that is supposed to be the centerpiece of the novellas in The True Love Wedding Dress anthology deserved a much better story. This was my first read by Connie Brockway, and as I've heard some positive things about her writing, I will try to reserve judgment on her talents until I've read something else that will hopefully be better than this, in my opinion, woefully underdeveloped farce.
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