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The Wedding Ring Quest, by Carla Kelly

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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 297
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:15 pm    Post subject: The Wedding Ring Quest, by Carla Kelly Reply with quote

6.5 out of 10

This book was pleasant, but as with Her Hesitant Heart and Marriage of Mercy, largely forgettable. (Though in all fairness, I think WRQ was better than either of those latter books.) Carla Kelly's way with language and narration was enjoyable as always.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Rennie has been dispatched by her relations to fetch the Christmas fruitcakes that were sent to friends. (One of the fruitcakes apparently contains a ring given to Mary's cousin by the cousin's fiance.) While chasing down the fruitcakes, she meets Navy Captain Ross Rennie and his son. They later determine they are distantly related, hence the same last name.

Well, there is a bit of adventure as the trio chase down the remaining cakes. We learn more about Captain Rennie's issues and how decades of war have physically, mentally, and spiritually scarred him. That seems to be the main point of the book--to show us Rennie's discomfort away from war and on dry land, and then to show us whether he can somehow come to terms with what the war has done to him and find a way forward. Mary, of course, plays a role in the latter.

The abrupt scene in Knaresborough--where Captain Rennie has a "moment"--took me aback, though. I just didn't feel like the previous conversations and events justified his sudden anger. I think I get what the author was trying to do--I just don't think it was set up very believably.

Mary Rennie may not quite be a Mary Sue (which the heroine of HHH was, IMO), but she's not that far away. She's loving, generous, wifely, and even apologizes to Captain Rennie for a tiny indiscretion even after he has said and done far worse things to her. Frankly, not my favorite type of heroine.

And Captain Rennie is rather hard to like, too, for much of the book, and especially when he tells Mary that his dream woman is tall, willowy and blonde, and "that rules you out on all counts, cousin". BTW, it really bugged me that Mary just chuckles and doesn't feel hurt by his blatant rejection, even though she already has feelings for him. Who wouldn't be a bit hurt by that?

So anyway, it's a decent, if not mind-blowing, G-rated read.

Oh, I do have one major peeve about this book: the horrible cover. Good thing I just ordered it from the library ("the new Carla Kelly, please"), because I'd have totally passed it by otherwise. These people on the cover have nothing to do with the characters in the story. First of all, Captain Rennie is 39 but looks 45ish, his face gaunt and weathered and a bit haunted from decades at sea. He also has a peg-effing-leg, Harlequin! I doubt he's wearing riding boots as depicted on the cover. Oh, and the book takes place in freezing winter, not in spring. They're not going out for a festive carriage ride, dagnabit! The woman on the cover is a little too pretty for Mary, but then, what else is new in the world of romance novel publishing?

If you have not read Carla Kelly and want to give her a try, I highly, highly recommend Reforming Lord Ragsdale.
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Joined: 05 Jul 2007
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would rate Wedding Ring Quest higher than you did. However, when challenged to remember what actually happened....I agree that parts of the story are somewhat forgettable. By far my favorite character was Ross Rennie. He was such a complex man and I loved him. I'm still not sure if Mary Rennie was strong enough for him.

Wedding Ring Quest was much stronger and more engaging than some of her recent books. It sent me on a reading glom and I've been going back and reading some of Kelly's backlist. She can write some of the stingiest, most engaging characters ever.
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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 297
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Minerva, I definitely waffled back and forth between 6.5 and 7.0. (I can't figure out why I get so picky about the rating, but I do!) Maybe a better cover--gah, this one offended me!--would have turned the tide.

I thought Captain Rennie was very interesting; he's the character who kept me reading, even when I felt the story dragged a tiny bit here and there. But Mary just didn't quite do it for me. Too quiet (which is what Captain Rennie likes, as it gives him peace and comfort), not enough personality on display.

I also did not like how Mary *knew* she could never ever ever possibly love another man, once she fell in love with the captain. Rolling Eyes I would have preferred to have her (1) chide herself on loving a man who wasn't really available and (2) have hope that she would find a healthy, loving man down the road.
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Carla Kelly

Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 200

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject: The Wedding Ring Quest, by Carla Kelly Reply with quote

Thanks so much for your comments. I also loathed, hated, and despised the cover, and for all the reasons you mentioned. I complained about it to Bryony Green, my Harlequin editor, and it did no good. It never does. Yikes, I finally even told her to send me the cover of my next book first, so I could write a novel about that and save us all some angst. I never heard from her after that, so I know I made her angry. To keep from crying every time I looked at that cover, I named the beautiful people Madge and Mark, and pretended they wandered in from some other book... You're certainly welcome to drop a note to Linda Fildew at Harlequin in London.

My sister, who is a paralegal advocate for Dssabled American Veterans, said The Wedding Ring Quest was the best novel she's ever read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Course, she's my sis!

On the other hand, check out The Double Cross, and this coming September's Marco and the Devil's Bargain, two books I wrote for another company. I even located the photo of Palo Duro Canyon for Book two in the series.
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