Bridal Quartet // by Nora Roberts (again)

  • Vision in White
  • Bed of Roses
  • Savor the Moment
  • Happy Every After

Those of you who have been with me for a while may think that these books sound familiar… and that’s mainly because this was my third time reading through this series, and for a more thorough review, you can check out my original thoughts (from 2016) here.

//published 2009//

In short, the quartet focuses on a group of women, childhood friends, who now own and operate their own wedding venue.  Each of them plays to her own strength:  Mackenzie does photography, Emma does flowers, Laurel does cakes, and Parker does all the organizing.  Each book is about a different member of the group and follows them through the course of a year as they each find true love.

Like I said in yesterday’s post, I’m reading a fascinating but dreary nonfiction tome on Vietnam, so I’ve been looking for some fluff reads to balance it out.  For some reason, I just really really love these books, and they’ve kind become a go-to for me when I just need something relaxing.

//published 2009//

A big part of the reason why I enjoy them so much is because these books are just as much about friendship as they are about romance.  The way that the characters love and support one other is so fun.  I feel like, in general, friendship has become greatly devalued in our current sex-obsessed culture, so it’s a real delight to see genuine BFFs working together and spending time together.  Even as each of the women finds her forever love, the women still make time for one another.

Roberts also writes men really well.  So many romance novels turn men into caricatures, but Roberts presents her readers with fully-developed characters.  While all four of the heroes share some characteristics, each of them is also quite individual in the way he handles life, romance, and friendship, and that’s really just quite refreshing.  Instead of feeling like any of the women could have ended up with any of the men, because they’re all basically the same, it really felt like each person had found a true match/balance in their lives.  I also like how when there are similarities between them, they acknowledge it because they’re all friends and they’re not stupid, so of course they would see parallels between Mac’s behavior and Jack’s, etc.

//published 2010//

I’m a huge sucker for stories that are set in the hospitality industry.  I love reading books about people who own hotels, restaurants, camps, etc., so this series also checks a big box there.  Roberts gives us just enough random wedding action to make the whole series feel realistic – in the midst of emotional upheaval, the weddings must go on!!

While all of these characters are comfortably off, and a couple of them are definitely wealthy, all of them are very hard workers.  I also really like that while several of them were able to go to an Ivy League college, others didn’t go to college at all.  One of the love interests is actually a mechanic, and I just overall appreciate that the characters in these books appreciate the people in their lives based on who they are as people, rather than their place in society.  The difference in status/wealth also isn’t ignored, but it also isn’t THE conflict point.

//published 2010//

There is also a lot of humor in these books – I’d honestly forgotten how much.  As the series progresses and the reader gets to know the characters better, the overall sense of fun is greatly increased.

My one hesitancy in wholehearted recommendation is that these books do have a decent amount of sexy times, and plenty of PG13 swearing.  That’s not really my thing, but it’s easy to skim through when needed.

Overall, these books are just a lot of fun.  When I was reading them this time, I was thinking how fun it would be to read a sequel series about the children of all these characters.  Roberts does such a great job matching together her characters that I’m completely confident in their long-term happiness.

If you’re looking for some relaxing fluff with extremely likable characters and a fun setting, I definitely recommend this series.

November Minireviews – Part 1

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

So I’ve been slowly working my way through a brick of a book about Vietnam before “our” Vietnam War – basically, it covers the history from the beginning of World War II through the beginning of the Vietnam War, most of which the Communists spent fighting with the French, with the US and China getting more and more involved in the background.  It’s genuinely fascinating, but that book weighs a literal three pounds and is over 800 pages long, so while I don’t mind lugging it places if I’m going to sit and read for a while, it’s not really an ideal book to throw in my bag if I think I’m only going to have time for a few pages.  So all that to say that I have also been reading quite a few fluff books, and I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on some of them…

Accidentally Married by Victorine Lieske – 3.5*

//published 2014//

Lieske apparently wrote several of these “modern marriages of convenience” stories, all of which are clean, a bit absurd, and good fun.  They are together in a boxed set on Kindle, so I thought they would kind of intertwine, but they appear to all be completely independent of each other.  Stephanie reviewed a few of these (although, ironically, not this one haha), which is how I first found them.  Anyway, this story was pretty fun, with a decently plausible scenario.  It seemed like the ending did drag a little bit because Madison and Jared wouldn’t just USE THEIR WORDS so they did that thing where they both assumed the other person wasn’t interested and went home and pouted instead of just having a conversation.  I mean, if you think this person is going to break up with you and never see you again anyway, what in the world do you have to lose by telling them how you really feel first??  Despite that, it was still a super relaxing little chick lit read, and I’m always a fan of fake relationships/marriages of convenience, so there is that.

Blind-Date Bride by Jillian Hart – 3*

//published 2009//

This is the first in a series of the crazy Love Inspired books.  Thanks to Great-Aunt Darby I have all the books in this series and thought I would give it a go.  This one was barely a 3* read, though, as virtually nothing happened in this book except listening to the two main characters angst about how they weren’t good enough for the other person, which was overall quite boring.  Weirdly, I did like the characters in this book a lot, and the small town setting was done well, so I decided to still give the second book a go, even though this one wasn’t really my thing.

Collie to the Rescue by Albert Payson Terhune – 3.5*

//published 1928//

I do love a good Terhune every once in a while, and this one has been on my shortlist ever since it came up in my random drawing for my #20BooksofSummer reads, which I am still trying to complete by the end of the year!!  This one is quite melodramatic but still a good time, although unlike most of Terhune’s books, this one is definitely way more about Brant than it is about his collie.  This one was also interesting because it was published back in 1928 (under the title Loot!), but a big part of the plot is about smuggling and selling drugs.  It’s just funny to me because we act like that is such a modern problem, but here’s a story from a hundred years ago where that was still playing a big part.  While this was a perfectly interesting and entertaining story, it wasn’t my favorite Terhune, with just a smidge too much drama.

Montana Homecoming by Jillian Hart – 3*

//published 2012//

This was the second  book in the series, and because it was just as meh as the first, I decided not to bother with the rest.  Again, the characters were very likable, but there was virtually no plot, and honestly Brooke’s “dog training” skills bordered on miraculous, because apparently all she had to do was keep saying the command and the dog just magically started doing what she wanted, which seemed pretty handy.

Reluctantly Married by Victorine Lieske – 3.5*

//published 2015//

This one was also just completely ridiculous but so fun that I couldn’t stop reading it.  I really liked both the main characters and liked the way they kept getting more and more tangled up in their situation.  Again, I felt like the ending dragged out a little too much, which took away from my overall enjoyment of the book, but it was still a good time.  I’m definitely planning to read some more of these books soon.  (Currently, the boxed set is available on Kindle Unlimited if anyone is interested.)

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer – 5*

//published 1953//

When all else fails, turn to Georgette Heyer!  It had been quite a while since I read this one, so I couldn’t quite remember how everything played out.  The dialogue is absolutely hilarious, and Freddy is honestly one of my very favorite Heyer heroes, because he’s so regular.  It was also fun because Jack is honestly more like the usual Heyer hero – older, brooding, a bit of a rake – but here we get Freddy, who is younger and just so ridiculously nice that it’s impossible not to root for him.  Kitty is lively and fun without being obnoxious, and all of the secondary characters are just as delightful, especially Freddy’s sister Meg – honestly, Freddy’s family really made this book, and I realized while I was reading it that one of the things I like about Heyer’s books is her ability to write families, especially siblings, so well.  At any rate, this book is a complete delight, and if, by some miracle, you haven’t picked up a Heyer book before, this one is a wonderful place to start.

October 2018 // Rearview Mirror

October was a busy but overall good month.  It included my birthday, lots of apples, a long weekend in the mountains, some stupidly hot days, and then a rapid switch to really cold days.  Now it’s chilly and rainy, all the leaves have FINALLY switched over, the time changes this weekend, and all in all things feel like they are trending towards winter.

Reading-wise, while I didn’t read a LOT of books, it felt like the overall quality was much better.  I’ve struggled to choose a favorite read the last couple of months, but for October I actually had trouble choosing between a couple because they were so good!  I also finally read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, a highly anticipated read for me that, while it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, still gave me a LOT of feels.

In September’s Rearview, I mentioned that I was way, way behind on reading other people’s blog posts.  I really made it a priority to get through those this month, and am happy to say that I am basically caught up!  However, I’m anticipating a reflective impact on the TBR numbers!!

Birthday Book Haul!

My birthday was super fun, except for the part where we had to go to the BMV to get tags for our new car, but hey, a day can’t be COMPLETELY perfect.  :-D  We had breakfast at IHOP, went to the local gunshow for some A+ people-watching, and then headed up to Columbus for a few hours in an absolutely fabulous independent bookstore, The Book Loft.  As in 2016, I was given a generous allotment of money and turned loose!  My inherent thriftiness always wins, but I did find some good books to add to the ever-growing collection, including a new Wodehouse, two nonfictions, and The Woman in Cabin 10 on the bargain rack which I mostly bought because the cover has embossed water droplets on it and feels amazing haha

Ironically, the book I REALLY wanted to get was Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints, which I still haven’t read, even after going to her AMAZING book tour last year.  So when I got home, I ordered it from Fountain Books, which sells autographed copies.  I’m still eagerly awaiting its arrival.

I also had a smidge of budget left, so I got on ebay intending to purchase a Georgette Heyer book or two… and instead ended up buying an entire box of random Regency romance paperbacks for less than a dollar each!  Most of them look absolutely terrible, but it doesn’t really damper my enthusiasm all that much.  :-D

My last bookish win for my birthday was from my sister.  In April 2017 I read The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge.  That book genuinely changed who I am as a person.  When I was reading it, I KNEW that it would really mean something to my sister, too, so I gave it to her as soon as I could.  She loved it so much that I actually gave her my copy for keeps!  For this birthday, she returned the favor by finding an actual first edition of it that came from England.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t wait to reread it!!!

North Carolina Adventures –

My husband had a Monday and a Tuesday off in October, so we took a long weekend to North Carolina.  We stayed in a cabin outside of a small town called Spruce Pine along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was absolutely beautiful, even when it was foggy.  We had a great time hiking and also driving our new car (it’s the first brand new car either of us have owned, and we’ve been talking about/saving for it for a couple of years now, so we are VERY enamored!) and just hanging out in the cabin reading books and eating popcorn.  I highly recommend finding some mountains if you’re feeling discouraged by life.


Favorite October Read:

Persuasion by Jane Austen has to go into this slot, although Young Pioneers was a close second.  But I’ll give you a two-word reason why Persuasion wins out:  Frederick Wentworth.  :-D

Most Disappointing October Read:

I guess Terms of Service by Scott Allan Morrison.  While this book had its moments, it overall was just very so-so, with a convoluted plot and a muddy point.

Other October Reads:

  • False Colours by Georgette Heyer – 4.5* – this was an utterly delightful read that made me snort with laughter a lot.
  • Garden Mysteries by Mary Freeman – 4* – super fun setting and likable characters; rather predictable mysteries.
  • Judy Bolton – Books 11-15 – 3.5* – these are fun and have their interesting moments, but read better in small doses.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – 4* – a reread worth rereading!
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – 4* – serious and somewhat dark, but still solid storytelling.
  • Utah Lion by James Ralph Johnson – 4* – a childhood favorite revisited.
  • Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane – 4.5* – a slim volume with a strong story.

Other October Posts:

I continued the Shelfie series by moving onto Shelf 2A!

Last October…

We also went south for a long weekend – our first out-of-state adventure in the Zeppelin to the mountains of Virginia!  I did a decent amount of reading, but not a lot of reviewing.  I particularly enjoyed a nonfiction read that looked at the different poisons Agatha Christie used throughout her writing – A is for Arsenic.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  872 (up… *whispers*… 16…)
  • Nonfiction:  81 (up three)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  675 (down three!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 107 (down one!)

Awaiting Review:

I’ve mostly been staying caught up.  However, I have read the first book in two different series.  The first one I don’t think is actually going to be a “series” – I think it’s just several books by the same author that I bought in a bundle – so it should get reviewed soon: Accidentally Married by Victoria Lieske.  The other book is the first in one of the crazy Love Inspired series.  It was pretty lame, so I’m going to give the second book a bit of a go, but if it’s just as lame, I’m going to DNF the set.  The one I’ve read already is Blind-Date Bride by Jillian Hart.

Current Reads:

For a while, I was back to reading basically just one book at a time.  I went back to my four-book pattern last week, but honestly I still just don’t have enough reading time to maintain that, so I’ll probably cut back as I finish a couple of these books.  Right now I have four books, plus my bedtime read…

  • Embers of War by Fredrik Logevall – a nonfiction read about the background of the Vietnam War.  It’s super, super interesting to me, especially since I remember literally nothing about the Vietnam War.  I’m hoping to find a good book about the war itself when I finish this one, so let me know if you have one to suggest!
  • Montana Homecoming by Jillian Hart – the second book in the crazy Love Inspired series.
  • Collie to the Rescue by Albert Payson Terhune – his books are so ridiculous that they’re great fun.
  • Saving Mars by Cidney Swanson – a free Kindle book I’ve had for a while
  • Reluctantly Married by Victoria Lieske – my relaxing bedtime book.

Approaching the Top of the Pile…

Honestly not sure why I even do this section, as it never seems to be true! :-D  Although in fairness, I have read/am reading all of the books from last month’s list in this section… they just didn’t happen ::next::

Anyway, here are the “probable” next five reads…

  • Maybe the next book in the Saving Mars series, if this one is any good
  • Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace – this is the author of the Betsy-Tacy books, which I read a few years ago and LOVED.  I’m interested to read this book geared towards older readers than the Betsy-Tacy books were originally.
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien – I picked this up on the library discard rack for a quarter several months ago, but still haven’t gotten around to reading it!!
  • Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson – the start of another fuzzy romance series that I read about somewhere sometime a while ago.  No clue if it will be any good, as I now don’t even really remember the premise.  I actually think it may have something to do with a hockey team?!  It’s more interesting if I don’t bother to look it up for this post.
  • The Runaway Dragon by Kate Coombs – this is a children’s book that my mom read a while back and thought was “super adorable” and loaned to me.  We’ll see what it’s all about.

That’s the update for now – Happy November!!