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REVIEW: Mother of the Bride by Caroline Anderson

Mother of the BrideDear Mrs. Anderson,

If not for a list of editors’ recommendations for upcoming Harlequin books, I might have skipped past this one. Let’s face it, the blurb is fairly generic yet might lead one to believe that this will be all about the Scottish castle and Rob’s Lairdness. Plus it makes Maisie look like the primary one interested in a new HEA.

Mother of the bride catches the bouquet!

With just a few months until her daughter’s wedding, Maisie feels butterflies at the prospect of seeing Jenni’s dad, Rob, again after so many years.

As parents of the bride they’ll be hosting the wedding party at his stunning Scottish ancestral estate, and watching as their daughter says “I do.”

Whether it’s nostalgia or wedding planning fever, Maisie’s beginning to wonder, can she convince Rob that they have another chance at their own happily-ever-after?

Instead, it’s a contemporary look at lost love and second chances that skips any sugary sweetness.

Since Jennie and Alec are (obviously) already in love, you left yourself plenty of room to concentrate on fanning the flames of Maisie and Rob’s past relationship and getting them back together. If you’d tried to cram in any brand new found love along with the wedding planning, it would have been too much. As it is, there’s a nice balance between Rob and Maisie learning who the other is now as well as deciding on flowers and the wedding menu.

I laughed at the sticker and wedding planning shock that Rob undergoes. Typical male who thinks this can be thrown together in one day vs Maisie who knows from her work that so much goes into The Big Day. I’m always a sucker for a “finding the wedding dress” scene and the fact that, despite their past history, Maisie cares enough about Jennie’s relationship with her grandmother to suggest letting Helen be the one to buy the veil, and for Jennie to pretend to find it while those two are out shopping.

Loved the English and Scottish settings but also loved how it wasn’t turned into Brigadoon. Rob is the Laird but he’s low key and doesn’t make much of it. He treats it more as duty and a bit of everyday rather than acting Lord of the Manor. The comment that Ardnashiel was always a work in progress struck a chord with me. My 60 year old house is always a work in progress so I can imagine a centuries old structure and what it would take to keep it going. You make clear the everyday aspect of how much time and effort Alec and Rob put into the business that keeps the estate solvent.

I also like that not everything goes perfectly for Rob and Maisie now. He says a few unthinking comments about her work and has never taken the time to view her website while she still has negative thoughts about going up to Ardnashiel and has to be treated with kid gloves around his mother.

As for what happened to end their first relationship, I appreciate that Maisie has actual reasons for what she did – it wasn’t all in her mind that Rob’s parents didn’t like her. Nor was her loneliness and the change in their relationship once Rob got back from Naval duty. And Rob too can justify his not going after her. Each saw things their way and were perhaps to young to try and view the issues from the other’s POV. Plus as he says, she didn’t have the guts to tell him her plans face to face. That would hurt. However, I can’t help but think that they should have done all this talking 20 years ago rather than wait so long. They certainly don’t seem to have any problems talking once they get going now. But I guess this is to show how much they’ve matured over the years and even if they had talked then, they still might not have been able to get things worked out. Oh, a big thank you for having Rob believe what Maisie tells him about his parents and for having him stick up for her now, though again it’s a shame they didn’t talk when the events actually happened.

As you move their reconcillation on, Rob and Maisie don’t give into mindless lust though they have lots of opportunities. There are issues to be worked out and I’m glad they take the time to do it right before falling into the sack. But I’m aware that this might not be a popular way to handle their relationship and even I got impatient towards the very end. But the buildup of feelings is nice to actually see in a book for a change rather than “let’s just get a leg over.” It’s definitely not plotsexplotSEX. After our recent posting about how many people skip sex scenes, here’s a book without that problem as there’s no sex. There’s the remembrance of past sex but in terms of the past relationship rather than current situation. And Jennie follows in mother’s footsteps and stays a virgin. Kind of nice to see this.

I’m glad I delved deeper into this book than I might have without any recommendation to boost it. It’s one that offers something different which I’m always on the lookout for. Yes, the conflict ought to have been resolved years ago when it happened but at least Maisie and Rob talk now and make sure that things are worked out before jumping back into marriage. And that earns it a B-

~Jayne

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This is a trade paperback published by NAL but pre-Agency pricing.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. AmyW (from Harlequin)
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:10:58

    Hi Jane,

    The different tone you notice is because this one was originally a Modern Heat from Mills & Boon in the UK, as opposed to the more traditional Presents from M&B Modern Romance. The Modern Heat ones tend to be my favourite Presents.
    ~Amy

  2. Sunita
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:25:37

    @AmyW (from Harlequin):I’m not a regular Presents reader, but I really like the UK Modern Heat line. I also like the regular HR line this is in, but I don’t always know which authors to try out next (I have a few favorites and autobuys). Thanks much, Jayne, this looks great.

  3. Jayne
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:29:39

    @AmyW (from Harlequin): I’m still learning my way around the Mills and Boon lines so I appreciate the information.

  4. Jayne
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:31:34

    @Sunita:

    I also like the regular HR line this is in, but I don't always know which authors to try out next

    Me too and me neither. Which authors would you recommend?

  5. Sunita
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:52:55

    @Jayne: I’m always recommending Liz Fielding. Also Fiona Harper. I’ve read a couple by Jessica Hart that have been good. Donna Alward has been more hit-and-miss for me, but definitely worth trying.

  6. Julie
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 14:53:23

    I’ve been reading Caroline Anderson’s books since the early nineties and she’s always been a writer I can rely on for paced, emotional, heartwarming and spellbinding romances. I have Mother of the Bride in my reading pile and I cannot wait to read it.

    I love the Harlequin Romance line and think that it’s a vastly overlooked line. There are some terrific writers writing for the series: Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart, Fiona Harper, Barbara Hannay, Nina Harrington, Nicola Marsh, Ally Blake, Marion Lennox and Lucy Gordon are must-reads for me!

  7. Sunita
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 15:34:08

    @Julie: Yes! Ally Blake! I have her in my TBR. Her books have gotten some really great reviews. I liked the one Barbara Hannay I read quite a bit (Needed: Her Mr. Right).

    I couldn’t agree more about the HR line. I don’t know why it gets such short shrift. And thanks for the other names as well. Lucy Gordon and Marion Lennox are hit-and-miss for me, but when they hit, they’re really satisfying. I find Lennox’s books quite emotionally intense, and sometimes that doesn’t work out for me in the short format, but I appreciate that she’s taking the approach.

    I think the medical line is underrated as well, although I admit I get a bit tired of all the babies. Still, there are some wonderful writers in that line, including a number who overlap with the Modern Heat and HR lines (Lennox, Kate Hardy, Sarah Morgan).

    ETA: Marion Lennox is really a buried treasure, in both HR and Medical. I avoid Fake Prince/Kingdom books like the plague, but I read one of hers and absolutely loved it. I immediately went out and bought the others in the series.

  8. Sally
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 01:56:29

    The first time I saw this book, I overlooked it, too, but for some forgotten reason, I decided to read the except anyway and was instantly hooked. This book made me weepy throughout, but there was something about Rob’s character that didn’t satisfy me all the way. Hm…

    I love the Romance line. I’ve found some wonderful treasures there. I don’t have any auto-buy authors because they’re always hit-or-miss for me, but can I recommend a title?

    I really enjoyed Dream Date with the Millionaire by Melissa McClone. The hero and the heroine actually go out on dates! Ha ha. It’s a very sweet and refreshing read.

  9. Jayne
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 06:16:48

    @Julie: The HR line does seem to get lost beside the flashier Presents, Blaze and Desire lines.

  10. Jayne
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 06:22:29

    @Sally: Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look into it.

  11. Julie
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 23:59:07

    Sunita and Jayne, I think the reason why the Harlequin Romance line is often overlooked is because many people think of it as a cosy and traditional line and therefore some readers might think that it’s old-fashioned, when in fact it is very youthful and contemporary.

    Ally Blake and Nicola Marsh write very fast-paced romantic comedy type of books which I really enjoy. I like Lucy Gordon because she always takes risks and pens something different every time.

    I discovered Marion Lennox in Medical Romance and then followed her to Romance. I will read anything with her name on it, although I do wish that she would write a Romance that doesn’t have a “Royal” theme as they are getting a bit trying.

    I love the Medicals as well – another overlooked line. Kate Hardy is wonderful as is Sarah Morgan, Lennox, Margaret McDonagh, Sharon Archer, Caroline Anderson, Josie Metcalfe, Fiona Lowe and Joanna Neil.

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