Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book review: Spring Brides

My Review of Spring Brides
A book of three novellas written by Rachel Hauck, Lenora Worth and Meg Moseley

The book’s back cover blurb starts with an invitation that reads, “Happily after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three spring weddings.” I loved the details on the blurb and was honored to receive this lovely invitation. But it was the book’s front cover that made me accept the invitation these three fictional springtime weddings.

The cover photo of Spring Brides is elegant, sweet, soft and simple. I loved the fact that the color theme was purple. I simply adore that color! A woman wearing an elegant, white wedding dress with what looks like a sweetheart neckline with buttons trailing down the middle low back of the dress. She’s hiked up her dress with her left hand to make a clear pathway for her feet. Her right hand is doing double-duty because she’s balancing her clutch of her bouquet of purpose flowers with her grasp on a lilac color umbrella. 

The background of this front cover photo is of a grassy area that leads to what looks like a blue-gray river stream. The title of the book along with the authors’ names are written in purple. All of those elements blend perfectly to create a whimsical and wonderful book cover. It also made me want to pick up the book and read it. Yes, I judged this book by its cover and I’m SO glad that I did. Allow me to tell you my reasons why. We’ll spend a little time on each of the three stories, in order of publication:

“A March Bride” by Rachel Hauck

I’d say that this story was a perfect 10. The author (Rachel Hauck) spends a great deal of her storytelling style on details. It’s through the details that you understand the characters and fall in love with their story. The story is about Susanna Truiit who is three ways away from marrying the man of her dreams who happens to be royalty. His proper title is King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. He wooed her and won her heart in Rachel’s previous book Once Upon a Prince and now it’s time for their love to be sealed. However, there is a problem—the prince's government insists that Susanna renounces her American citizenship before the wedding. She cannot have dual citizenship due to the political reasons. Making things worse is the fact that her closest family and friends for health-related reasons, cannot fly to Brighton for the wedding. The reader learns of this multi-layered conflict within the first few chapters of the story.

Rachel as an author, does an awesome job of developing the conflict and using it to drive the readers deep into the characterization of her hero and heroine. Even the secondary characters are solid and written well. The author gives great thought about their hopes and dreams in their fictional life along with showing the reader their strong support of the main characters. She knows how to show and not simply tell the story.

The plot was unpredictable, even to a seasoned reader like me! I enjoyed the surprises and experienced great anticipation about how the plot twists would work out toward a happy ending. After all, she’s marrying a prince and don’t all fairy tale-like stories have happy endings?

Without giving away the ending of "A March Bride", I will say that as a reader, I was satisfied with the ending of this story. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

“An April Bride” by Lenora Worth

Another story that I’d give a perfect 10 rating. The author (Lenora Worth), does a fabulous job of painting these captivating fictional characters and structuring their world with her words.

The author’s strength is telling the story through emotions and memories. She focuses on Stella Carson who is a blushing bride and is ready to marry the man of her dreams (Marshall Henderson). Marshall is a wounded warrior. He was sent to the Middle East as a soldier for the U.S. Army but he suffered a loss so great that it robbed him of his memory. So after a long stay at the hospital, he returns home and is reunited his bride but he barely recognizes her and does not remember their love story.

The fact that Marshall does not remember their relationship and love story troubles Stella. But she refuses to give up. She’s strong-willed about marrying him as scheduled, from the first day of their reunion through most of their story. She makes every effort to kindly show him their love story and tell him why they're meant to be together. As time goes by, Marshall realizes the reasons why he wanted to marry Stella—she’s beautiful, sweet, compassionate, caring and patient—but he does not remember how they fell in love. He cannot remember any of their dates but he does listen to his parents who gently push him to still marry Stella despite his memory loss. His parents tell him that he and Stella are the “real deal” and help me realize that memory loss or not, when you find true love, it’s rare and worth fighting to keep.

However, Marshall’s trauma from his experience as a soldier makes him more distant to Stella because he won’t share his burdens with her and it causes a rift in their relationship. You’ll have to read the story to find out if love conquers all. But I will say that as a reader, I was not disappointed.

The author weaves a very sweet and realistic story, one that soldiers and army wives in real-life can relate to. I’d recommend “An April Bride” to everyone who has ever loved a soldier. It’s truly a touching and beautiful story that anyone can appreciate and enjoy.

“A May Bride” by Meg Moseley

May is my birth month, so I instantly wanted to read this story. It focuses on Elle Martin, a country girl living in the city, who dreams of a traditional wedding. She goes shopping for wedding dresses in her free time and plans other details for her wedding. But there’s just one necessary detail that she cannot shop for or exactly plan to get—the groom. She’s one of those women who have dreamed of their perfect wedding day since she was a little girl. Now she is a grown woman with an agenda, one that she keeps hidden when she meets her hero, Gray Whitby.

Gray is quite a catch. He’s good-looking, stable, funny and smart. The only flaw in his character, I’d say, is his impulsiveness. He and Elle strike up a fast friendship that leads to mutual attraction and then a whirlwind romance, the kind that ends with a proposal.

But the proposal is only the first hurdle on the path to Elle’s dream wedding. She has a strict mother who after having her heart broken by Elle’s father, is cynical about love. Elle’s Mom does nothing to improve or approve of Elle’s relationship with Gray. She rains on their wedding planning parade and places doubt in their heads as to whether or not they should tie the knot. Oh, the conflict! But don’t you know, it’s the conflict that makes the story?

The author (Meg Moseley) does a great job at creating conflict and going deep into her character’s thoughts/desires/fictional life stories. However, the story’s pacing felt rushed. I think that the story may have been better if the pacing was a bit slower and more steady because the rush, while it was fine for the whirlwind romance, took away from the story’s structure. It seemed a bit loose in points and unbelievable.

However, “A May Bride” was still a good story. The dialogue was unique and the characters were likeable. I think that if this story was a standalone novel, the author may have had more time to develop the plotline and deepen the characters. I’d give this story a solid 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10).

After “attending” each of these “weddings,” I’ve decided to give Spring Brides an A+! It’s a wonderful collection of stories. If you love romance stories with a hint of humor and a solid thread of faith, you need to read this book.

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