The Marriage Campaign
By Karen Templeton
January 22, 2013
Karen Templeton wraps up her Summer Sisters trilogy in this book, following The Doctor’s Do-Over (Mel and Ryder’s story) and A Gift for All Seasons (April and Patrick’s story). Blythe Broussard is serving as maid of honor and wedding planner for the double wedding of the two cousins with whom she shared the summers of their childhood at their grandmother’s house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She’s thrilled for Mel and April, but their happiness makes her newly and acutely aware that the flip side of her treasured independence is loneliness.
Wes Phillips, a young widower with an eleven-year-old son, is one of Maryland’s congressional representatives. His wife was killed two years earlier in the same automobile accident that took the life of Ryder’s fiancée. But unlike Ryder who has mourned his loss and is ready to begin a new life with Mel and her daughter Quinn, Wes can’t imagine himself married to anyone other than Kym. He takes his responsibilities to his district seriously, in part because of his own idealism and in part to honor Kim who worked hard to see him elected. He is devoted to his son Jack, but Wes’s work in Washington means that he is away from Jack a great deal of the time and often caught up with job-related tasks even when he is home in Maryland.
Blythe, emotionally abandoned by her own parents, identifies with Jack who is still grieving for his mother and angry that his father doesn’t seem to have time for him. His grandparents live with him, but not even their loving presence makes up for what he has lost. Blythe knows from experience the dangers that such feelings can lead to. When Wes hires her to design a new, more grown-up room for Jack, she finds herself falling hard for Wes, Jack, and Jack’s black lab, Bear.
She’s not the only one. The attraction that Wes feels for Blythe from their early meetings grows into something more powerful as the two of them spend more time together. Soon Wes knows he wants Blyth in his life permanently, but Blythe is all too aware of the obstacles to that ending. Jack is not ready for someone to take his mother’s role, and even when Jack opens his heart to Blythe, her own wild-child past makes her the last person a politician needs as his wife.
Readers will find both Blythe and Wes likable, sympathetic character and will feel invested in seeing them achieve their HEA. Jack is an important character, and Templeton makes both him and Quinn, who are tweens at that difficult stage when they are no longer little kids but are not yet teenagers, both believable and endearing. The relationship among the three cousins continues to be an important thread in the story and part of the appeal of the series. Those who read the two earlier books will certainly enjoy the glimpses of Mel’s and April’s HEAs with the men they are marrying, but The Marriage Campaign can be read as a standalone.
The Doctor’s Do-Over is my favorite of the three books, but this book is a strong conclusion to a trilogy that is among award-winning Templeton’s best work. If you haven’t read Karen Templeton, this book—or even better, this series—is an excellent place to begin.
I can’t think of many romances that feature a politician as a hero. Why do you think politician heroes are a rare breed in romance fiction?