REVIEW: Suddenly a Bride by Kasey Michaels
Dear. Ms. Michaels,
I will admit to loving to wander through bridal shops and checking out gowns, headdresses and accessories. There’s just something about all that hope and promise of a future plus getting to look like your version of a Princess for a Day that gets me every time. And though I would probably be driven to drink by a Bridezilla, I think it would be fun to work in one. Chessie Burton seems like an ideal person to sniff out her brides’ hopes and fears and a wonderful person to have as a friend.
Elizabeth Carstairs isn’t sure whether or not to accept her boss’s proposal. The young widow and mother of twins could certainly do with the financial security marrying the wealthy author would bring and they certainly like each other. But is that enough for a woman who’s known true love? Hoping that a trip to a bridal salon and trying on dresses will help her decide, she tentatively steps across the threshold of Second Chance Bridal and into the orbit of owner Chessie Burton.
Chessie quickly discovers Elizabeth’s fears and decides to step in – well, okay butt in – by calling on her hottie cousin Will Hollingswood to wake up the widow Carstairs with some careful flirting plus a date or two. Just enough to remind her that her hormones are there then back off. Only Elizabeth and Will soon find out they’ve got explosive chemistry which leads Will to begin thinking about things that a confirmed ladies man shouldn’t be thinking of such as fatherhood, back yard barbecues and forever. Is Will ready to take on an instant family or should he just kickstart Elizabeth then quietly leave her to Richard?
There are so many things I love about this book and so many ways it avoided the pitfalls which normally lower my grades. Let’s see:
Elizabeth’s first husband is someone she loved right to the end and someone she will always love. He isn’t turned into an ogre to make Will look better nor is he revered as a saint. You also give Elizabeth time to reflect on him, remember him then move on as she must with her life. The line where she thinks that she’ll always have him in her life as long as she has their sons made me smile and choke up a little.
Thank you for letting Elizabeth be a woman as well as a mother. Too many times I’ve read books about young mothers which focuses totally on their role as a mother to the exclusion of all else. Elizabeth still likes to look nice, likes the sound her new heeled shoes make when she walks, likes buying pretty things for herself and the attention Will gives her. Yet she can snap back into “Mom” in a moment’s notice and already laments that her babies are growing up and moving past being totally reliant on her. Both these sides of her seem very realistic, very natural.
Will comes across as a man who hasn’t been around small children very much. I laughed when he asks Elizabeth if they can sense fear and asks her for tips on how to deal with them. Yet his interactions with Mikey and Danny – Mike and Dan as he begins to call them – seem to start where I would expect – with buying sports gear – then move slowly to getting those first haircuts then to caring about the boys as a father would. I would have been suspicious of any feelings of instant fatherhood on his part just as much as instantly falling in love with Elizabeth. It’s her looks which catch his eye first followed by her inner personality.
Mike and Dan read as two seven year old boys. Charming at times, rougish at others with what they’re thinking tumbling out of their mouths without any editing. They’re just beginning to see their mother as someone other than Mom and aren’t totally sure about what marriage entails so their response to Will’s proposal – which is a scream, BTW – makes sense.
I also like that when the chance for a Big Mis followed by a blowup occurs, you sidestep it and keep to the story at hand. As well, when the opportunity for Will and Elizabeth to begin an adult relationship happens, it starts naturally and they enjoy it for what it is without instantly thinking “I’m in lurve!” The progression of their relationship from initial attraction to physical to emotional flows. And while the time frame from first meeting to marriage is quick – this is a Harlequin after all, you managed to suck me into it to the point I even enjoyed the epilogue.
I’m a long time fan of yours and delighted to be able to recommend yet another of your books. It’s a book which reads quickly, is also funny yet still deals with some emotional depths. I’ve already got the next book in the series ready to go and hope it lives up to this one. A-
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This is a trade paperback published by NAL but pre-Agency pricing.
I could not care less about bridal stuff, but I’m a sucker for a second-chance story. This sounds great. Thanks, Jayne!
There’s probably more about baseball then bridal shops in this one. Will and Elizabeth take the boys to see a local team, called the Iron Pigs, play. The names for the mascots are fantastic.
I read this and it was a little bit meh for me. The first half of the story when we’re introduced to the kids was great–lively and fun dialog that made me really enjoy the characters. But the other relationships (friends & romantic) fell flat for me and I was bored by the time I got to the end.
I just finished reading Nora Robert’s three books in her bride series recently though. I hadn’t read a book by Nora in like 15 years–I forgot how great she is at building her characters relationships with friends and family as well as the romance. So I think I might be comparing this book to them unfairly when at another time I might have enjoyed this story more.
I just finished a slightly older category romance with a “late husband” who was also remembered well and was still loved. (The in-laws, in the other hand, were the villians).
It was nice to see the ex remembered with love, and the loving remembered as both fun and hot.
It was “Nowhere to Hide” by Raeanne Thayne.
what happens to her boss? Does he find someone too?
@Tabby: That’s always a danger for me too. I finish a flat-out fantastic book and am reluctant to start the next one for fear that it can’t possibly hold up to what I just finished.
@MikiS: I hate the “late husband turned into the villain” trope that we see so much in romance. The idea that the heroine can only have “one true love.” Phooey. This book shows how a widowed heroine can be handled well.
@Kaetrin: Oops, sorry. Yes he does find love with one of the bridal shop people who is a big fan of his books. I haven’t started reading the next book in the series so I’m not sure if there’s more information about them in it.
Their romance isn’t a major subplot of this book which is a good thing since it’s a category and I dont’ think the length could have handled all Will and Elizabeth’s romance plus this one and done it well.
I love Kasey Michaels. Thanks Jane for a great review and a reminder to stop by my local bookstore to pick up a copy.
@Jayne Have you ever read any single title Michaels books? I haven’t been able to finish one but your review here makes me want to try this out.
@Jane: I like a few of her contemporary single titles but really like her older trad regencies. Try “The Tycoon’s Secret.” It’s a Harlequin Blaze from 2 years ago.
@Jane: I really liked How To Tempt A Duke, one of Kasey Michaels’ Regencies. It’s a bit slow to start but the middle is really worth it.
Thanks for this review. I looked at this book in Borders last month, and for some reason decided not to buy it, even though I’ve enjoyed Kasey Michaels’ books in the past. I was able to find a copy still on the shelves, and read it yesterday. It was delightful, for all the reasons you enumerate.
@Melanie: Oh wow, I’m glad you found a copy this late in the month. And that you liked it!
Coming in late to say that this book is in the Harlequin Summer Sale at the moment – the ebook is $2.25 and worth every penny!
@Ros: Great price for a very enjoyable book. Thanks for letting us know.
Finally found this book at a thrift store (new author to me so I was apprehensive of buying new). Anyway, LOVED IT. Thanks Jayne for this review. It worked. I am looking forward to getting the rest in this series.
@sarah_florida: Great! I’m so glad the rec worked for you. I think there’s supposed to be a third book to the series but I haven’t seen it listed for sale yet.