Ellie Vyne and James Hartley have been enemies for as long as they can remember. It all started when a very brass Ellie painted a mustache on young James’s face. Not to mention the Vynes and the Hartleys have an ongoing feud. James’s mother left his father to run off with Ellie’s uncle. No one can seem to forgive or forget that scandal. James and Ellie are destined to always be a thorn in the other’s side.
Ellie Vyne’s biggest secret is that she is solely responsible for the welfare of her family. Her stepfather is terrible at managing money. Without her wit and daring her sisters would not have been able to marry well and her stepfather would not have a roof over his head. In order to pull off the charade Ellie keeps people at a distance by being as outlandish as she can. The complication is that Ellie has no place to call home. She doesn’t fit anywhere and she’s fairly astute on picking up on when she has worn her welcome. Ellie wants what almost everyone wants. A place to call her own.
James Hartley is a prideful man and for all of that he has suffered quite a lot of scandal. First his mother abandons him. Then his intended calls their engagement. A few years later while they are courting again, James is again tossed over. Once he decides to reform his rakish ways he finds a woman at a masked ball only to lose her. James spends the next few months quietly trying to help those in need and looking for the woman he lost at the ball.
James and Ellie have spent so much time fighting each other that they never realized they had exactly what they needed in each other. Ellie brings out the lightness in James that he tries so hard to smother. James brings a steady presence and cares for Ellie in a way that no one has ever thought to do for her before. It is so much fun to watch them work towards each other. They resist and make excuses and eventually accept it for what it is.
Jayne Fresina has quite a few things going on in The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne. There is masquerading on both James and Ellie’s parts, there is a touch of mystery/suspense, there are past loves, a runaway and that’s just to name the first few that pop into my head. I do want to be clear on this: while Fresina has a lot going on in this book, I never felt that James and Ellie were lost in the shuffle. I did enjoy this book quite a bit and I am thrilled to discover that there are at least two more books expected for the citizens of Sydney Dovesdale coming!