When life gets busy and chaotic, I find myself looking for something relaxing to read. My sister had picked up Vision in White at a book sale for a quarter, so I stole it. I enjoyed it so much that I blew through the next three of the series: Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment, and Happy Ever After. These weren’t really books of great depth, but if you are looking for something that’s rather like delicious hot chocolate (with real whipped cream) in book form, these should fit the bill.
The series focuses on four women who have been friends since childhood: Mackenzie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker. When Parker’s parents died, the friends bonded together and opened their own business using Parker’s estate – they started a wedding planning company called Vows. Conveniently, each of the women is interested in a different area: Mac loves photography; Emma loves flowers; Laurel loves to bake; and Parker loves to organize. These stories begin after the women have been in business together for several years. All four of them live on the estate – Mac in the old poolhouse (now a studio downstairs and apartment upstairs), Emma in the old guesthouse (which now has a workspace downstairs as well), and Laurel and Parker each in a different wing of the mansion. Each of the books, of course, focuses on a different member of the quartet, and, in the course of a year, each of the women find true love. They’re sappy, but in a super fun and happy way. :-D
Vision in White is Mac’s story. Each book begins with a little prologue, giving us a glimpse into the childhood of these friends, and Mac’s book begins with the moment in which she realized photography was her passion. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire tale, and Mac’s love interest, Carter, is as adorable as they come. Roberts does a really great job of creating couples with a lot of chemistry, and just enough challenges in their relationship to keep things interesting while not bogging the story down with nothing but angst. Mac’s manipulative mother and Mac’s struggles with the concept of “happily ever after” actually being a goal she can achieve, are realistic and well-written, giving the story some meat without making it one of those long, irritating, internal dialogues of the Woe is me variety.
All of Roberts’s characters are just plain likable. They are hardworking, intelligent, kind, funny, and pleasant. Hanging out with them through four books was enjoyable because I liked all of the characters. Roberts created four heroines who were friends, but still distinct individuals.
The second book, Bed of Roses, is about Emma, the florist. I really liked Emma a lot. She’s optimistic and friendly, and if I could have a tenth of her gardening sense, I would be super happy. Her love interest, Jack, is one of Parker’s brother’s best friends, and has hung around Vows for years. Jack is an architect, and he helped design many of the modifications to the estate that made it a successful business. Now that Mac and Carter are engaged, he’s working at Vows even more, helping to design some changes to Mac’s studio/apartment to make it a better living space for the now-couple.
I enjoyed a love story where the main couple have been friends for a while and then decide they want to become something more. I’m always a sucker for friends-to-lovers stories (although, ironically, my personal love story wasn’t that way at all). For this story, Roberts did a good job of making Jack really likable, while still making his issues with commitment seem reasonable and genuine. I liked watching Emma and Jack work through things, and I also enjoyed – as through all the books – the strong friendship and support, not only between the four women, but between the guys as well. It isn’t as evident in Vision in White, but throughout the other three books, we get a lot more conversations between the guys, and see that even though their method of support and friendship is different than it is between the women, it’s still there and it’s still strong. Jack and Parker’s brother, Delaney, are especially close friends.
Speaking of Delaney, he becomes Laurel’s love interest in the third book, Savor the Moment. Laurel is a lot more hot-tempered than Mac and Emma, and her relationship reflects it. She’s been in love with Del her whole life, and it was great to see their relationship develop. I really like Del, who has a strong sense of family and duty, and does his best to watch out for and protect all the people in his life.
Del is like whoa-rich, which definitely helps. He also has a house that sounds spectacular. But he’s also super intelligent, thoughtful, and hardworking. I really liked the way that he came to appreciate Laurel and also how he realized the importance of having a relationship that is balanced – he couldn’t always be the only one giving. Laurel had to learn the opposite lesson – how to accept with grace – which was also good to see.
Throughout the whole series, there is plenty of humor and fun conversations, but for me it seemed the most pronounced in my personal favorite, Happy Ever After. It’s possible that this was my favorite because I relate the most to Parker: she loves organizing and directing, and is constantly in the background making sure everything is going smoothly. I’m the stage-manager type myself, and love having charts and systems and spreadsheets.
From pretty early in the series, it’s rather obvious how the pairings are going to play out. Parker’s love interest, Malcolm, is introduced in the first book rather briefly, but becomes more and more involved with the group throughout the next two books. By the time we begin Parker’s story, her relationship with Mal doesn’t feel unnatural, other than the fact that Mal is a rough-around-the-edges mechanic. (Yeah, he was kind of my favorite of the guys, too…) By the fourth book, I really felt like I had gotten to know the entire gang well, which made this book just really enjoyable. Watching the other happy couples in the background was great, and this book was especially humorous.
I will say that this series was a bit more… um, smutty, I guess, than my usual fair. But it was tasteful smut, if there can be such a thing. I guess it just seemed like it occurred naturally, rather than just being there for the sake of being smutty. There was story beyond the sexy times.
All in all, I enjoyed this series so much that I bought the books used with some of my Christmas money, as I see them being some relaxing reads that I would come back to again. A comfortable 4/5 for the series as a whole, and recommend if you are looking for something pleasant, low-stress, and not particularly challenging. :-D