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Shirley Hailstock

REVIEW: The Right Wedding Gown by Shirley Hailstock

REVIEW: The Right Wedding Gown by Shirley Hailstock

Dear Ms. Hailstock,

I have been looking forward to sharp tongued Samara finding love with persistent Joshua for months now – well, ever since Samara’s sister Cinnamon’s book. But, alas, I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my hopes for it.

Samara is marriage shy. Actually not just shy but phobic. You’ve given her some concrete reasons in that so many of her family and friends are on their second and third attempts. That plus the national marriage statistics make the effort looked doomed to failure and filled with heartache. So, Samara decides to play it smart and enjoy dating but with no intention of ever tying the knot.

Joshua knows quickly that Samara is The One for him. He’s one of the divorce statistics and the fact that he was married when he first began pursuing her, though separated and already having filed for divorce, turns Samara off. Okay, that’s understandable. Then their attempts at dating get screwed the next few times he asks her out. With his job, again, I can see it. His ex does sound like a piece of work.

But he persists and keeps after Samara in a way that is unique and shows he knows what’s important to her, namely old documents. Now this was genius on his part and impressed me, too. Here’s a woman who lives for old documents and even works in the National Archives – and how cool is that? – so he uses “aged” invitations to dates.

But, though I can understand that Samara is leery of marriage, after a while, I got sick and tired of her waffling. And I’m surprised it took Joshua as long as it did to join me in this thought. He pursues, she declines, he continues, she gives in, they date, they feel more than a spark, she gets twitchy, she backs off and tells him “that’s it, no more, we’re finished,” he pursues and she gives in. As they say, “wash, rinse and repeat.” A hundred pages of this gets old quickly.

Then she reports all this to her friends and wishy-washes some more. He’s hot, he’s nice, he’s got a good job, he loves her but oh noes! the statistics. She can’t possibly take the risk as it’s doomed – doomed! I tell you – to failure. If I’d been one of her friends, I would have been smacking her with one of the menus from the places they met to eat.

I found myself more interested in her job in the archives – and thank you for including more of this aspect of her life than we saw of Cinnamon’s job. More interested in the details of DC, more interested in the painting that Joshua wants restored for his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary – and where did this subplot go to? A build up to something interesting, namely potential war bounty from, I would assume, the Nazi theft of art around WWII then, poof! that’s over with little fanfare.

One thing that did make me happy was that Joshua changes his job. Not necessarily for Samara but the switch would benefit their time together. As he kept missing date after date, I wondered if this had impacted his last marriage and thought it didn’t bode well for any future one. But he saves himself from burn out, gets a promotion up in government ranks and gets to work at the White House too. Cool deal.

Cinnamon and Mac appear just enough that I know they’re happy and their parts here support this book and its characters.
I also wish the cover art, though lovely, had utilized one of the descriptions of the antique wedding dresses in the book.

Sad to say that instead of a smart, sophisticated contemporary, I got a repetitive and ultimately boring story that left me feeling that the heroine wasn’t too smart – or was perhaps too smart for her own good – and a hero who appeared to having something for masochistic behavior. C-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Wrong Dress, Right Guy by Shirley Hailstock

Dear Ms. Hailstock,

book review I have to admit it was the beautiful cover of “Wrong Dress, Right Guy” which caught my eye followed by the blurb. Yeah, I’m a sucker for weddings too as long as I’m not the one running the last minute errands or having to spring for any more of those expensive, yet ghastly, bridesmaid dresses anymore. Thank goodness I’ve never dealt with a Bridezilla! But poor Cinnamon Scott has to deal with someone almost as bad. Is there a term for brother-of-the-bride-zilla?

Though once Mac gets over his snit that he catches Cinnamon trying on his sister’s ‘mistakenly delivered to Cinnamon’s house’ dress I got to like the guy. He’s a gentleman, handy around the house (never discount that!), cleans up after himself as well as being an intelligent political journalist. I enjoyed seeing scenes of him at work in D.C. as well as how tied into the local Indian Falls community he is.

Cinnamon is the type of heroine I love. She doesn’t take any nonsense from her hero, calls him on his stupid assumptions, doesn’t swoon with lust – though she does enjoy his presence as arm candy – just because she’s within 10 feet of him. She’s also intelligent and has a sense of humor. I like that you’ve given her one of the most interesting jobs I’ve seen in a romance novel, as a meteorologist with the NWS, but wish that we’d actually gotten to see her at work instead of her still not having started her new job yet.

Mac and Cinnamon aren’t people just randomly stuck in D.C. in order to give the book an urban setting. Both have family and ties to the area in the form of a small town just outside the Beltway. And if Indian Falls, VA doesn’t exist, you make it seem like it should. Though I admire Cinnamon’s mother’s decorating daring, I have to admit I’m a traditionalist like Cinnamon.

I can understand Mac’s reluctance to have anything to do with weddings.
After all, being stood up by your bride in front of 300 of your nearest and dearest plus work colleagues would be no fun. I think his decision to enjoy life, date lovely ladies, make sure both he and they have a nice time, then say good-bye in the morning is realistic. So why does he claim Cinnamon as his fiancee at his best friend’s wedding?

I was somewhat confused over your description of Cinnamon as alternately someone who’s looking for her knight in shining armor while always having dreamt of her perfect wedding and a woman who’s scorning marriage after having been burned by a past love in Boston. And for such a decisive woman in all other things, she certainly doesn’t put a stop to all the merchants in Indian Falls basically planning her nonexistent wedding. I can see her enjoying the humor of it and wanting the merchants to get some publicity but after a while, it seems like these two intelligent people let themselves basically get railroaded into planning a wedding.

However what really has me blinking and flipping back pages to reread is the final reconciliation. Cinnamon goes to Mac’s journalism lecture and flat out hears him state that he’s not going to get married and isn’t going to fall in love. Ever. Then Mac comes to her house and tells her he loves her. She throws him out and he leaves without explaining what he said earlier. Then he comes back, both admit to love everlasting and that’s it? Then why did he say what he did at the lecture? Doesn’t Cinnamon want to know? Because I sure do.

I kept thinking I was missing a scene in my MS lit ebook. I still feel I’m missing a resolution of his fears about marriage. And considering how crucial that is to a HEA, this one gets a B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.