In these stories of matrimonial madness from four sensational authors, unexpected couples find their happily ever after at a wedding that’s counting down to disaster…
Since it’s Spring and we’re headed into prime Wedding Season this anthology is perfectly timed. As the entries all take place at the same wedding event, I felt I’d be getting a more complete story arc. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that Jeannie Lin’s participation got my attention but the chance to try a few new authors was a sweet bonus so here I am. The stories are tied together and it’s probably best to read them in order.
When a perfectionist and a troublemaker have to stick together in Amanda Berry’s The Wedding Planner: Flirting with Disaster, more than sparks fly…
Julie’s job is to make sure her clients get the perfect wedding day to look back on and cherish. Seth sees his responsibility as ruffling a few feathers at family weddings. As a lawyer specializing in divorces he sees more than his share of once happy couples who couldn’t accept that married life is more than a perfect day. If the bride and groom can deal with a little kerfluffle, he figures he’s done his bit to start them out not expecting rainbows all the time.
I felt I was presented with Seth’s POV better than Julie’s. There are hints that there’s something in her past that drives her to perfection but it’s not elaborated on while Seth’s (in)famous exploits are explained in a way that had me laughing and agreeing with his reasoning.
On the other hand, their relationship moves briskly and I could feel the attraction zipping it along. He gets her to loosen up a bit – the vision of them taking helium hits is hilarious – while she gets him to see the need to save the day after a prank goes wrong. The novella closes at a good spot with them looking forward to dating but without any forced HEA or even HFN. B-
In Shawntelle Madison’s The Maid of Honor: Lovers in Lockdown, two best friends trapped in a wine cellar decide to sample the wine—and each other…
Friends to lovers with the help of some bourbon and a game of truth or dare while locked in a wine cellar. Well it’s a novella – something had to move things along.
I love their happy friend bantering and fact that since they know each other’s dark secrets, I’m okay with the story length to a happy ending. Max goes all MacGyver, screws his courage to the sticking point, saves the day and shows Renata he’s The Man for her. I’m chanting ‘Go, Max. Go, Max!” Engineer geek triumphs.
Sweet and charming, despite the hawtness taking place in a cooled wine cellar. B
Covering up the groom’s many misdeeds forces the best man to choose between loyalty and the love of a wedding singer in Stephanie Draven’s The Best Man: Sex, Lies and Karmic Catastrophe.
And this is the reunion story. There’s going to be some karmic justice dished out but the question is by whom and to whom. Blake starts out just a bit less of an asshole than his friend the groom but this is believably explained and we begin to see the true man who still feels for his lost first love. Penny has her regrets but before long they’re shedding clothes and scooting a sofa across the floor in sizzling fashion.
I was feeling this one, enjoying these two get to know each other again and as they had changed over the five years since their breakup but then suddenly when the truth comes out about why Blake was sent to intercept Penny, he turns into a glib player again and both Penny and I are wondering what happened to him. The scene goes from “wow, we’re reconnecting and I made a mistake leaving you and that was incredible sex” to “I don’t want to be in the room with you, asshole” in about 10 minutes.
This is then quickly followed by a soul searching conversation and complete about face. I was getting whiplash as I read it. All might end well but I wasn’t buying it. D
And finally, a runaway bride, a hunky caterer and a stolen cake hit the road in a hijacked van in Jeannie Lin’s The Bride: Love on the Run.
Like the wedding cake at the reception, or the bridal party dancing to Thriller if they’re coordinated enough, the piece de resistance of this anthology comes last. A bride who’s been shoving down her doubts for a month meets up with a caterer trying to break loose from his restaurant owning family when she bolts for freedom sitting in the shotgun side of his van.
Tessa is the sweet peacemaker who couldn’t find the gumption to call a halt while Andy was raised in a volatile family who shouts the roof down then eats. Sometimes their silences as they head back down the mountain then dig into the tiramisu cake are awkward while at other times the conversation is dryly witty but they connect on a deep level, can talk to each other and, well, “fit.” With each other, they can trust their instincts, let it all loose and primally scream out their frustrations.
As they decide to take it slowly, they both realize they’re looking forward to the future. B+
So as I usually find with collections or an anthology, this one is a mixed bag. One darn good, one good, one not bad and one that I just didn’t end up clicking with the way the characters acted. Still with more positive than negative and being a fast read, overall I think it’s worth the effort.