The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is romantic, sweet, and so relatable–a shining star for contemporary romance! Check out our review and grab your copy today!
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
[For Mature Audiences; Some Spoilers]
Towards the end of 2017, Jasmine Guillory’s debut novel The Wedding Date was on several most-anticipated in 2018 lists. So as soon as I got my hands on this book, I was eager to dive in. Once I picked The Wedding Date up and met Alexa and Drew, I couldn’t stop! I ended up bingeing the story in about 12 hours over one weekend and enjoyed it so much. The Wedding Date is romantic, sweet, and so relatable. As we’re having conversations about increasing representation and inclusion in media, Jasmine Guillory is a shining star for the contemporary romance genre! Couples are negotiating interracial relationships everyday, and it’s so refreshing to see this normalized and represented in novels. This is one book that should be at the top of all our TBR lists.
Alexa Monroe is at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel to visit her sister, Olivia, who is in town from New York City for a business trip. Unfortunately, the reunion is a little delayed when the elevator goes out during a power outage at the hotel. YIKES. Well, the good news is that Alexa doesn’t have to go through this alone. Her current elevator companion, Andrew Nichols, is a doctor from LA. Over cheese and crackers (reluctantly shared by Alexa… they were supposed to be snacks for her sister!) Alexa learns that Drew is in town for a wedding–his ex-girlfriend is marrying his former best friend and he’s one of the groomsmen. And, even worse, Drew must navigate this weekend of awkward all by himself since his date fell through. DAMN.
After commiserating over relationship drama, Drew decides to take a chance. He thinks Alexa is incredibly attractive (and she definitely reciprocates the feeling), so why not invite her to be his date for the wedding weekend. After a little hesitation, Alexa agrees and they exchange numbers. When they part ways, Alexa starts to have second thoughts; however, encouragement from her sister and best friend, Maddie, Alexa decides to go for it. The weekend is fantastic! The drinks and food are good and Alexa and Drew have fun getting to know one another. At a certain point, it doesn’t even feel like they’re pretending to be boyfriend/girlfriend. So when the time comes to part ways, Drew asks Alexa to stay with him for the night. And LAWD, the multiple rounds of sex are magnificent! After their wonderful weekend, they have to go their separate ways–Alexa goes back to Berkeley and her job as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, while Drew returns to his practice in LA.
But these two just can’t stop thinking about each other. Who says the great sex has to end after one weekend? Alexa and Drew decide to travel back and forth to see one another over several weekends. The magnificent sex continues and they have a blast getting to know one another. However, when things start to become serious, Alexa and Drew have some serious decisions to make. Are they willing to wade through the concerns about being in an interracial relationship and commitment-phobia?
I can’t tell you how much I love Alexa. She is a brilliant Black woman (a lawyer by training), who is passionate about her family, friends, and work. Over the course of the book, we get to see Alexa take on a project for the Mayor’s office that would have a significant impact on the lives of youth in her community. Alexa is also quite confident in her skin–that’s not to say she doesn’t have some self-esteem issues around her thicker body and kinky hair. But Alexa works with what she’s got and knows when she’s hot!
This is definitely part of why Drew is attracted to Alexa. But beyond her beautiful curves, he appreciates her kindness and intellect. As a successful pediatrician, Drew is incredibly busy; however, he knows a good thing when he sees it. I like so much how Drew is willing to put in the legwork and frequent flyer miles to pursue something with Alexa.
The chemistry between Alexa and Drew is the one of the major highlights of this book. That chemistry is evident in their fun banter as they get to know one another, and it’s definitely in the bedroom!
“Or”—he looked straight down into her eyes—“you could stay.”
A question was in his eyes, and a smile hovered over his lips. His thumb drew slow circles on her hip and then moved up her side to her ribs. His other hand moved up to her face and traced the outline of her lips with his fingers. She shivered. He waited.
“Or,” she said, “I could stay.”
He pulled her against him and kissed her. Their lips clung together softly at first, then with more urgency. He tasted like bourbon and chocolate cake and everything she’d ever craved. She sighed against his lips and murmured his name, and she could feel his smile. Her hands moved into his hair, that hair that she’d been wanting to touch all night, and he kissed her harder. His hand cupped her cheek, and the gentle touch on her skin as she felt the heat of his mouth had her nerve endings on fire. It seemed like they were all alone in that crowded ballroom. The people and the noise swirled around them as his lips touched hers, his tongue slid inside her mouth, his body pressed up against hers. They pulled apart for a moment, and he smiled down at her.
“I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” he said, his golden brown eyes staring straight into hers. He kissed her cheek, her ear, her collarbone. His tongue traced her lips before he claimed her mouth again. She moved her hand in between them so she could touch his chest, wishing there was no fabric under her fingers but just his skin. Her touch seemed to alight something in Drew. He moved his hands to her back and tugged her against his body. His hands felt like iron against her back, and his rough touch sent a thrill up and down her spine. She bit his lip in retaliation for the bruises she’d have the next day. He laughed and sucked her lip into his mouth.
…She tried to reach for him again, but he pinned her arms against the wall, holding both of her wrists with one hand.
“Tell me,” he said to her. “Tell me what you want.”
She hesitated, her eyes half lidded and hazy.
“Do you want this, Alexa?” he asked, his free hand moving up and down her torso.
“You know I do,” she said, her eyes closed.
She pushed her chest against him, but he kept his touch gentle. He could sense her frustration. He loved it.
“Then tell me what you want me to do to you.”
Finally, she opened her eyes wide and smiled at him. “Kiss me.”
…A half second later, she was on her back. She laughed up at him, and he grinned down at her, and then wiped the smile from his face.
“This is not a laughing matter. We have serious work to do.”
Alexa tried to stop smiling, but her lips curved up despite herself. “Well, never let it be said that Alexa Monroe doesn’t believe in the value of hard work.”
“Mmmm.” He ran his hands up and down her hips, and pushed her knees open. “I would never say that.”
“I had a great time this weekend, ”she said. Even though he knew, he knew she’d had a great time, that smile made him unsure. Screw it. He cleared the two feet separating them in one step and pinned her against the wall. Her arms went around his neck, pulling him even closer to her.
“I know you did,” he said. “And you know I did, too.”
He slid one hand up her body and enjoyed her sharp intake of breath when he got to that spot she liked. Her lips parted and her eyes followed his hand. He pulled her dress and bra down. He needed to touch her, without anything in between them. Her fingers tightened on his shoulders. Oh yeah, he knew she’d had a great time this weekend.
“Don’t you have to go to the airport?” Her voice was hoarse.
“I’ll drive fast,” he said. The hand that wasn’t on her breast skimmed her knee and slid up her thigh under her dress. He kept going up, and then stopped, surprised. “Have you been walking around all day with no panties on like this?”
Without waiting for an answer, he pressed a finger inside of her and she cried out. She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes.
“Tell me, Alexa,” he said. She kept making those noises that he couldn’t get enough of. “Have you been like this all day without telling me? When we were in the park, lying in the grass, could I have done this as easily then?”
She opened her eyes a sliver and smiled at him. “I didn’t”—she gasped—“pack extra panties yesterday. I didn’t know I was going to sleep over. What was I supposed to do?”
He groaned. “If I had known that, I would have pulled that dress up long before we left the park. You are evil.”
She laughed and gasped all at the same time. “I’m going to get you back for that sometime,”he said. “Just not right now.”
…He stood up, pulled a condom out of his pocket, and pinned her arms against the wall over her head.
“Hold on.” He was so turned on from what had just happened, from the thought of her without underwear on all day, from those little noises she made, that he had no finesse. He heard the wall creak and the light fixtures shake, saw her breasts jiggle, felt her writhe beneath him and clench around him. Her leg slid down his body, her arms fell around his waist, and they stood there, quiet and shuddering for a few minutes until their breathing slowed.
You all know how much I like my sexy times THICK with the description. So one of my main critiques of The Wedding Date is how, more often than not, the sex fades to black. While we might not need every single blow-by-blow detail ( 😉 ), having deeper description of key sexual encounters–Alexa and Drew’s first time together, their first make-up sex, etc.–would help to convey the increasing intimacy between these two characters.
With that said, I *really* enjoy how Alexa’s and Drew’s interracial relationship is portrayed. We know that Alexa is Black and Drew is White, and it’s not a big deal. The depiction of their attraction to each other is beautiful in its realness. At the same time, there a few key moments where racial difference is raised as an issue, but it only helps to bring Alexa and Drew together. For example, towards the beginning, Alexa asks Drew whether she will be the only Black person at the wedding events. Alexa has experienced being the only person of color in a room; however, she likes to know what to expect. This is certainly something I can relate to. As for Drew, he doesn’t get defensive, but the question certainly jars him into a sense of awareness he’s never had to contend with before. This happens again when Alexa schools him on different rates of suspension and arrest for Black and White teens, even for the same youthful pranks. As a reader, I really like seeing Alexa’s influence on Drew in terms of his increasing consciousness and sensitivity. Similarly, Drew encourages Alexa to take risks, which has positive consequences for her personal and professional life.
Yet, there are moments where the relationship drama feels contrived. Given Alexa’s confidence in the beauty of her Blackness, her insecurity about Drew’s (White) ex-girlfriends is unexpected. Similarly, we don’t get nearly enough background about Drew’s previous relationships (romantic, family, etc.) to understand what is behind his commitment-phobia (and why Alexa might be the one he wants to change for).
No spoilers, but The Wedding Date gives us a pretty sweet HEA with an epilogue that brings us full circle in the most romantic way. There are also several awesome secondary characters like Maddie, Theo (Alexa’s work-husband), Carlos (Drew’s best friend), and Olivia. They’re great friends and sounding boards who help Alexa and Drew through the ups and downs of their relationship.
I highly recommend The Wedding Date for fans of contemporary romance. This story will swoon you from beginning to end! Especially, if you’re looking for a heroine that’s brilliant, beautiful, and Black (and who isn’t?!), this novel needs to be at the top of your TBR list.
*Many thanks to the publisher for an advanced review copy.