Reviewed by Rhonda
TITLE: A Wedding to Die For (A Brandt and Donnelly Caper: Case File Three)
SERIES: Brandt and Donnelly Capers
AUTHOR: Xavier Mayne
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 456 pages
BLURB: When a high-profile gay celebrity couple asks two of the city’s most established vendors to provide cake and flowers for their wedding and they refuse, a resulting boycott threatens to shut them down. It’s up to the next generation in the family-owned businesses to save them from ruin. Justin Capella, baker’s son, and Roman Montgomery, floral scion, work together to plan the gay wedding of the year. Justin and Roman haven’t seen each other since that fateful day in third grade when a single kiss shocked Justin and sent Roman to boarding school. As fate would have it, Justin and Roman rediscover love while working on the wedding. But disaster might pry them apart again. Troopers Brandt and Donnelly are working with a statewide task force for the rights of LGBT citizens—all while searching for a killer wedding planner. As guests at the “wedding of the year,” they are the first responders when all hell breaks loose. In investigating, the troopers are led to a shadowy figure they believe seduced Roman into doing his bidding. But the real murderer will cover his tracks at all costs, including Roman and Justin’s lives.
I really wish I could sum up this book easily, but no can do. This is going to be the longest review I have done so far as it touches on many delicate issues that gay and lesbian couples go through when trying to exercise the same rights that heterosexual couples get easily.
Laws have been passed, which guarantee access to public accommodation to all citizens, including those who are LGBT. Even though that provides same sex couples those rights, many couples when trying to plan a joyous occasion such as a wedding are denied services by wedding planners and caterers and such, which is what this book is about.
We meet Greg Sampson, a television news anchor, and his longtime partner Peter Lawrence, a high profile attorney, who are planning their nuptials and are faced with homophobia from the baker at Capella cakes and from Montgomery flowers amongst others in the wedding industry that have turned them down simply because they are a same sex couple. Greg and Peter decide to take the situation public by announcing that they are suing the venues in question for denying them their basic rights guaranteed by law.
This causes such an uproar in the gay community that the district attorney wants things smoothed over before things get ugly so he has the chief of police assign officers Brandt and Donnelly to the case to help smooth things over and convince Capella and Montgomery to go ahead and do the wedding and get our high profile couple married. While the senior members of the companies in question won’t do the preparations, their sons Justin and Roman step up to provide the cake and flowers and save their businesses from destruction as word gets out about their initial refusal to accommodate the wedding and they are both swamped with cancellations that could ruin their businesses.
Over time as they work together there is a bit of a back story with Justin and Roman going back to when they were in the third grade together. It involves an innocent kiss that separated them for the next 20 or so years, but as luck would have it they are brought together as adults now and working together on the wedding. Roman and Justin start a romance of their own. Justin gives Roman what he has never given anyone else ever, his heart and soul as well as his virginity thinking that he has finally found the man of his dreams. As the old saying goes though, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, Roman has secrets and an agenda .Won’t tell you the details, you are just going to have to read this great book and find out for yourselves. You all just had to know I was going to say that right?
We encounter some humor as a wedding planner is sought and they encounter some real off the wall characters with ideas that are so over the top that the sanity of some of these wedding planners is called into question. I don’t know where the author got the idea to release doves from a helicopter but boy am I glad they didn’t go that route.
Brandt and Donnelly do an excellent job getting the wedding to go forward, but when disaster strikes at the wedding, guests are poisoned, the flowers are nearly lethal and the guests are treated to gastric distress that they will never forget. Basically anything that can go wrong does. However that was really the least of the happy couple’s problems. They eventually leave for their honeymoon and what happens next makes the wedding look good. And of course I won’t give a spoiler as to what happens, but you will shed a tear or three. Our detectives are now charged with going from wedding facilitators to investigating a possible murder and the what, where and when of what happened, and by whom.
This book runs you through a gamut of emotions. I was angry, laughing, shocked and astonished at the ins and outs of the plot, by a major character loss and by what happened at the hospital and how the authorities handled the situation. I can say I was so angry I wanted to write a letter to my senator and complain about how same sex couples are treated when they are faced with a loved one being injured and not being allowed to be with them to comfort them. This full length novel is going in my permanent library and I will be reading it again.