Maya Rodale’s A Groom of One’s Own is set to drop on June 29. I’ve the ARC for months and just recently got around to reading it. It’s a charming time pass about Miss Sophie Harlow, a “Writing Girl” for the London Weekly. Fresh off her own jilting at the altar, she moves to London and becomes a wedding reporter for the gossip rag, which also employs several other Writing Girls. A chance encounter with a handsome man begins to renew Sophie’s hopes in romance…and then he turns out to be the “double duke” involved in the ton‘s wedding of the year!
As one might hope, Sophie and Brandon (as in “The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon”) are the backbone of the novel. Rodale paints them with humor and depth and creates a very believable build of tension between them. Hanging in there for their resolution made up for some choppiness and uneven spots. I did not know, going in, that this book was the first in a series, but that was something remedied in the first 60 pages, when Rodale introduced everyone in the universe ever. Readers meet everyone from the Writing Girls, to the male employees at the London Weekly, to the members of a salon that is never mentioned again in the entire novel. That salon, Lady Jane’s, was a nod to the real-life Lady Jane’s that’s held every month here in New York, but other than being a cute shout-out, it just cluttered the canvas with names. If you’re writing a series, seed the people involved in it evenly throughout your text and use them for something. Introducing everybody at the beginning and then banishing most of them to the ether does no good for readers like me, who have the memory capacity of a goldfish. I really don’t remember most of the extra characters, except Sophie’s best friend and housemate, Julianna.
Lest I sound like I’m flogging the book, the characters Rodale does flesh out, she fleshes out exceedingly well. I loved that Brandon’s fiancée, Clarissa, was not the “bad guy” of the piece, and I became just as invested in her story…cheering when she began to grow a backbone. Julianna, as well as Brandon’s fellow club member at White’s, Roxbury, were great supporting characters. And what does a dashing foreign prince have to do with it all…? Well, you’ll just have to read A Groom of One’s Own to find out!