REVIEW: Vision in White by Nora Roberts
Dear Ms. Roberts:
While I haven’t read all of your books, I’ve read a great many of them and I think I can safely say that Vision in White is one of the funniest books you’ve penned in a long time. I thought Carter Maguire, the clumsy, blushing, tweed wearing, Yale educated, English lit teacher was adorable; and Mackenzie Elliott was a dynamo.
Vision in White is the first of four books featuring the best friend owners of Vows, a full service wedding event business. Parker inherited a mansion with a ballroom and together with Lauren, the cake decorator; Emma, the florist; and Mackenzie, the photographer, the four have created the place for weddings in Connecticut. Vision features the romance of Mackenzie and Carter.
This is a straight contemporary romance with nary a hint of serial killers or stalkers. The focus is straight on the burgeoning attraction between Carter and Mackenzie which is complicated by Mackenzie’s fear of commitment. Mackenzie had a shitty childhood. Her mother is an emotional vampire who is constantly laying on the guilt to get Mackenzie to support whatever bad habit her mother is into at the moment.
The funny mostly comes from scenes in which Carter is advised on dating by his friend Bob, the math teacher. Carter has had a long crush on Mackenzie, since high school, and the idea of dating and then having sex with his crush, well, it makes even picking out flowers a challenge.
They were colorful, he thought with some resentment. They smelled nice. A couple of those big gerbera daisies were mixed in, and they struck him as a friendly flower. None of the dreaded roses, he mused, which, according to the Law of Bob, meant he’d basically be asking Mackensie to marry him and bear his children.
So, they should be safe.
Maybe they were too safe.
The kind-eyed cashier gave him a quick smile. "Aren’t those pretty! A surprise for your wife?"
"No. No. I don’t have a wife."
"Oh, for your girl then."
"Not exactly." He fumbled out his wallet as she rang them up. "Just a . . . Could I just ask you if you think these are appropriate for a date? I mean to give to the woman I’m taking out to dinner.”
"Sure they are. Most everybody likes flowers, don’t they? Especially us girls. She’s going to think you’re real sweet, and thoughtful, too."
"But not too . . ." Stop while you’re ahead, Carter told himself.
She took the money, made the change. "Here you go now." She slid the bouquet into a clear plastic bag. "You have a real good time tonight."
"Thank you." More relaxed, Carter walked back to his car. If you couldn’t trust the checker in the express line at the supermarket, who could you trust?
Another laugh out loud scene for me was when Carter was trying not to get advice from Bob after screwing up royally with Mackenzie
“You have two women after you. Two. Man, Carter, you’re a dog. You’re the big dog."
"For God’s sake, Bob, you’re completely missing the point."
"Not me, pal." The slack jaw had morphed into a grin of pure admiration. "The point is two hot chicks got it for you….” Bob’s eyes went bright with fantasy. "You’re the big, bad dog."
"I don’t want to be the dog." There was a reason he’d kept the incident to himself through the workday. But what madness had overtaken him to make him believe he could get reasonable advice out of Bob anywhere, anytime? "Try to stay with me on this, Bob.
"I’m trying, but I keep getting flashes of the girl fight. You know, with the rolling around on the floor and ripping each other’s clothes." Bob lifted his skinny cinnamon latte. "It’s pretty vivid."
The romance between Carter and Mackenzie unwraps slowly despite what seems like a compressed time space. They ruminate; they spend time together; they rehash their dates with their friends. It’s authentic, funny, and charming. The parts of the story that lacked realism for me was the relationship Mackenzie had with her mother. Early on in the story, Mackenzie receives a phone call from her mother asking for $3,000 to pay for a spa package, something Linda must have in order to recover from her latest breakup. Mackenzie forks it over with very little resistance and then berates herself for doing so.
I didn’t understand Mackenzie’s complicated dynamic with her mother at this point of the book (and really for most of it). I could see maybe paying your mother’s rent or food or something, but a $3,000 spa package? It just seemed outrageous and I didn’t get why Mackenize so easily succumbed to her mother’s manipulations. I wish I had been provided greater insight regarding that. It was an important issue and impediment to Mackenzie’s relationship with Carter but I felt it was the least fleshed out issue.
I loved the girl power relationship Mackenzie had with her three friends. I also appreciated that they fought and made up. It wasn’t halcyonic storybook friendship, but real and authentic. Again, it was Carter, blushing, sweet, earnest and hot Carter, and his hilarious conversations that made the story for me.