Thursday, 20 May 2021

Emma's Review: Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O'Flanagan

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

At the first wedding, there's a shock

The second wedding is unexpected

By the third, Delphie thinks nothing could surprise her. But she's wrong . . .

Delphie is enjoying her brother's wedding. Her surprise last-minute Plus One has stunned her family - and it's also stopped any of them asking again why she's still single. But when she sees all the missed calls that evening, she knows it can't be good news. And she's right.

Delphie has been living her best life, loving her job, her friends, her no-strings relationships and her dream house by the sea. Now she has to question everything she believed about who she is and what she wants. Is her mum right - is it time to settle down? Or does she want to keep on trying to have it all?

Each wedding of a glorious summer brings a new surprise. And as everything Delphie thought she had is threatened, she has the chance to reshape her future . . . 

Book Links: Kindle or Hardcover

Many thanks to Hachette Ireland for my copy of Three Weddings and a Proposal to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

It’s been quite awhile since I have read a book by Sheila O’Flanagan. I have read all her earlier books and loved them but then something made me stop reading books from this author. Maybe my reading tastes changed but whatever it was it was certainly a mistake because this new book Three Weddings and a Proposal was a great, entertaining read. Soon after beginning this story, I was kicking myself that I had abandoned this author for so long. This is a mature read, thankfully not focused on the usual storyline of woman meets man, there is a bit of tooing and froing and then everything turns out like a bed of roses. 

Instead it focuses on a career minded young woman, Delphie, who works hard for her boss Conrad and is not bothered by family pressures to settle down and find a man. From reading it come as across that she knows what she wants. She is happy being single and in what she is doing work wise and who says you have to find a man to make your life complete. She is in no rush to get married despite her pool of single friends shrinking rapidly, but yet she is judged by others for wanting something different as in not seeking marriage or rushing to find love. But in this day and age this really doesn’t wash with me, we are who we are and we can always stand by the choices we make. I thought it would be interesting to discover if Delphie would be able to stick to her strong stance. 

I admired Delphie for having these strong opinions, times are constantly changing in this modern world and this story reflected that. Women are so much more than the sum of their parts and giving in to outside pressures should not be something taken lightly. Women are strong and independent but yet the traditions and opinions of family still try to have some bearing and it was great to see a main female character with a bit of backbone and who knew what she wanted. This is a well paced story overall and I found myself flying through the chapters becoming completely immersed in Delphie’s story. 

Delphie leads a busy life working as an executive assistant to millionaire businessman Conrad. She is his right hand woman and organises all aspects of his life, both business and personal. She feels she has a great relationship with him but others in his company view her as a glorified secretary who perhaps has stepped a bit too far above her station. Delphie always has the best interests of both Conrad and the company at heart and perhaps her fellow colleagues are jealous of this. When visiting Conrad in his Mallorcan villa he offers her a position on the company’s board as director. To be honest I thought this was bit much considering she was his personal assistant and didn’t have the financial qualifications that other workers had. I’m not saying it’s a man versus women thing but it was such an important role he offered her and had she really built up to it? Yes, she is smart, committed, hard working, loyal and good at problem solving but to me sitting on the board seemed too much far too soon. 

Whilst on the way back to Ireland, she meets her ex boyfriend Ed and before you know it he is her plus one for her brother Andre’s wedding. Is there a spark there between the two that never went away but circumstances prevented things going further at the time? Who knows but he does became a feature point of the story and provides the personal element that Delphie has to battle with at the same time as battling for her position in the dog eat dog world of Conrad’s company. 

Earth shattering news rocks Delphie’s world as she parties at her brother’s wedding. Conrad is dead having had an accident on his motorbike. This is the pivotal turning pint for Delphie where I felt we really saw her rise up to meet the many challenges facing her. Things have changed and there is a sense of anticipation surrounding the men in the office, they see their chance to leap into power and poor Delphie realises they have no idea she had been offered a position on the board. I think this is the point where she really started re-evaluating her life. She came to an understanding that you can do everything for everyone and be that solid, reliable person who every turns to in order to get something sorted. But in the end it’s every man and woman for themselves.

Conrad viewed her as being reliable and dependable, and I suppose he was rewarding her loyalty, but now that he was gone where does it leave her? It made me stop and think that in the professional world, and to a certain extent in our personal lives, we really have to look out for ourselves because that’s what everyone else does. It’s no good being all things to all people and being taken for granted because you can be dropped in an instant. Delphie is focused and assured and never lets herself get distracted being strong, forceful and having no self doubts. But Conrad’s death rocks her world and she realises that life is fleeting and we should embrace it as much as possible. Perhaps this would make her look on love in a different way and when the worst happens regarding her job and her world appears to be crashing down around her she knows she has to start forging her own path and not take things lying down. Now is the chance to change and shape her future on all levels.

After the initial setting up of the story and the Delphie’s world being turned upside down, I felt the focus changed more so to her personal life. She still interacted with and helped out Conrad’s partner Bianca and who would have been his soon-to-be ex wife Martha but I felt she was clinging on to an old life and still running around doing favours for others. It was like she was still doing people’s bidding and I wanted her to really get her act together and see the wood for the trees. She needs an anchor as having a job is what makes her feel secure but as to what that would turn out to be I really wasn’t sure. As for the ‘romance/love’ element I’m glad it wasn’t the sole focus of the book and when Ed made his appearances I really wasn’t all that overly interested in what was going on with him. I was more concerned with Delphie’s journey through work, family and the challenges being thrown in her direction because it was a refreshing change to see a woman trying to make the best of her life and career instead of having a full blown run of the mill romance book of which we have all read so much of.

The only thing I will say regarding this book is given the title, I really was expecting three weddings and a proposal to feature heavily. The first wedding did have a significant impact but it was such a long time before the rest featured. More so towards the end and therefore I felt the ending was rushed given the book itself was a decent length. I wasn’t as happy with the ending as I had expected to be but it didn’t taint my overall reading experience and I can overlook my slight dissatisfaction with it. Three Weddings and a Proposal is definitely a great book to get stuck into over the summer months. Be it lounging by a pool if at all possible or on a staycation do pack this one in your bag.

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