A Season to Wed // by Cindy Kirk, Rachel Hauck, and Cheryl Wyatt

After really enjoying the happy little novellas from the first Year of Weddings (set by seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn), I thought that I would give the second year a whirl.  These are still set by month, but the titles don’t reflect it the way the first set did.  I’ve actually read the first three seasons at this point, and I’ve overall been disappointed as these stories are really not up to par with the first set.  This first book in particular was quite weak, and there was one story in the second book that I didn’t even bother finishing.  The third book was more at the level of the first year, though, so I will probably still end up finding the autumn book at some point (it isn’t at the library even though the other three are…??)

Anyway, on to this set of three stories –

Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk – 2.5/5 – this was a story that was almost really good, but was executed so clumsily that I couldn’t get into it.  The premise is that Hope eloped with her high school sweetheart, John, the night of their high school prom.  But right after they got married, she panicked and changed her mind.  The guy who married them said that was fine and he just wouldn’t file their paperwork and everyone could go on with life.  Now, ten years later, John is back in town AND Hope has just found out that they are still legally married even though the paperwork never got filed.

First, I wasn’t convinced that they were legit married.  Isn’t the whole point of getting married so that the government can acknowledge your marriage?  If it’s never filed, the government never knows about it??  So maybe they are ‘morally’ married (or something), but I don’t think they would suddenly be able to just sit down and start filing taxes like a married couple.  I don’t know, I’m not a legal expert, but the the whole thing seemed sketch.

Secondly, Hope goes to John to tell him this whole story.  And… they sleep together!?  Like right then?!  This is ‘Christian’ romance, so there is nothing graphic, and in fact it was so NOT graphic and so incredibly random that I had to read the paragraph multiple times to make sure that that was what had actually happened.  Here’s how it goes down – they’re sitting on John’s couch and share a kiss.  John, of course, has always been desperately in love with Hope through all the years.

This was the woman who held his heart.  Whether she wanted it or not, she had it for all eternity.

John had always felt connected to her.  He’d never forgotten the vows they’d made and the promise given.  In this moment, he saw those same sentiments in her expression.

Several hours later, Hope left John’s bed and headed downtown for an appointment she’d made after speaking with the county recorder.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have edited nothing!  What just happened!?  It was just SO obvious that Kirk didn’t want annulment to be an option, so she had to make them sleep together right away, apparently.  It was just weird and forced and bizarre.  So even though I actually liked the characters and even parts of the story, that whole bit was just so weird that I couldn’t get past it.

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck – 2.5/5 – I really enjoyed Hauck’s contribution from the first round of seasonal weddings, but this was a really weak story.  The whole story was way too melodramatic, and it seemed impossible to believe that Ginger would suddenly and completely do a 180* turnabout and now everything is fine.  The story was just weird and cheesy, and not in a relaxing way.

Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt – 3/5 – This one wasn’t too bad and I actually enjoyed most of it.  However, the story was really choppy, and the whole hate-to-love thing happened waaaay too fast to be convincing.

Advertisements

Autumn Brides // by Kathryn Springer, Katie Ganshert, and Beth Vogt

So this is the final season in the first Year of Weddings novellas, and I felt like it ended well.  I really enjoyed all three of these stories.  There is apparently a second Year of Weddings, which do sound quite appealing to me, as they are all supposed to be stories that focus on people who help make weddings happen – so caterers, florists, photographers, wedding planners, etc.  I love stories that work with people in the hospitality industry (random but true), so I definitely do want to get through those one of these days.  I’ve reserved the first couple of collections at the library.

September Bride by Kathryn Springer – 3/5 – This was a cute story with a fun premise, and I really liked the characters.  However, I felt like Jesse went from super-suspicious of Annie and her motives to over-the-top in love really quickly.  And when he pulled some strings to find out more about Annie’s background, he just assumed that she had been unjustly accused and was suddenly on her team, even though just a day before he had been the one who asked about her background to begin with because he thought she was up to something!  So while it was a really fun little story, it still seemed lacking in the ‘logical conclusions’ department.

October Bride by Katie Ganshert – 4/5 – Possibly because it involved the well-loved fake-relationship trope, this was probably my favorite of the three.  Plus, Jake was just a 100% perfect hero for this story.  I loved his relationship with Emma, and really wanted this story to be a full-length novel.  Emma’s family was just so much fun, and the small-town vibe was completely  believable.  I really enjoyed watching their fake relationship spiral out of control.  All in all, I have put some of Ganshert’s other books on the list to see what else she has gotten into.

November Bride by Beth Vogt – 3/5 – This was a really fun and lighthearted little story, even though I did just want to shake some sense into the main couple every once in a while (USE YOUR WORDS!).  Still, they had good chemistry and it was a happy little story without too much angst.

In conclusion, the Year of Wedding novellas have been fun and relaxing.  While they weren’t these mind-blowing stories that left me pondering life’s deeper meaning, they were fluffy and fun and got me through some really slow reading times and introduced me to a few new authors, which I’m sure was the point!  Overall recommended if you like relaxing, clean, happy little romance tales.

 

Summer Brides // by Marybeth Whalen, Beth Wiseman, and Debra Clopton

The third season in A Year of Weddings (Winter and Spring have also been reviewed) was another reasonably enjoyable outing.  While nothing came across as wildly innovative and engaging, they were still pleasant reads on the whole, even if they did kind of make my eyes roll more than usual.  Of course, that could be me because I have been quite discontented with my reading this month.

June Bride by Marybeth Whalen – 2.5/5 – This was my least favorite of the three.  Supposedly, Wynne has just finished a season on a reality show that focuses on people who have just been through a bad breakup and helps them find a new love.  When the story opens, the show has finished and Wynne is engaged to one of the guys she met on the show, Andy.  However, Wynne’s ex shows up almost immediately, and it’s obvious that he and Wynne are going to end up together, so I never had any kind of investment in the Wynne/Andy relationship, and it felt completely absurd that Wynne would have agreed to marry this guy without talking about things like going to church and having children.  I mean seriously.  There was also this other random character whose actions and presence made almost no sense and definitely felt like filler.  Basically I just felt annoyed at everyone the whole time I was reading this story, even if it did have its cute moments.

July Bride by Beth Wiseman – 3/5 – This story was alright.  Alyssa’s fiancee, Brendan, leaves her at the altar, which is pretty darn embarrassing.  Even more embarrassing is that afterwards he feels really bad and starts trying to win her back, when all she wants to do is move on.  Unfortunately, she starts dating another guy and Wiseman obviously wanted to make the other guy a bad guy, but she was really bad at it, so he just came across as not really making a lot of sense.  Like he thinks about seducing Alyssa, but then completely respects her request to wait until they’re married to have sex?  I wasn’t expecting him to rape her or anything, but it definitely seemed like if you wanted to convince me that he was not a nice guy, he should have been using a lot more peer pressure or something.  It was like she wanted everyone to root for Brenden so she had to make the other guy not nice, but she also didn’t want anything actually distressing to happen in her story, so the bad guy was just kind of … a guy.  The whole story would have made much better sense without  the love triangle – there still could have been plenty of story just with Alyssa and Brenden working out their lives.

August Bride by Debra Clopton – 3.5/5 – My favorite out of the three, even though it’s really not my ‘type’ of romance, as it definitely involved a cowboy, which generally makes me roll my eyes really hard.  But the chemistry between the two main characters was really good, and I loved the involvement of the crazy match-making aunts (who apparently are actually in a whole series of books that Clopton wrote, and right after I read this novella I got the first book in that series for free!).  I also felt like the give and take between the main characters was done really well.  All in all, this would have been a 4/5, except after knowing each other for only three weeks (and a lot of that time spent not convinced that they should be dating at all) they leap directly into being engaged to get married?!  The story would have made WAY more sense if they had decided to start dating each other, and then we had a nice little epilogue set in the future where they get all happily married.  Like I met my husband in April and married him in July of the same year, so I understand the concept of knowing when someone is the right person and not messing about, but my real-life story of three months already seems like a stretch, and I just couldn’t buy a fictional three week relationship that leads directly to getting married.

All in all, another pleasant set of three, but nothing that really captured my fancy.

Winter Brides // by various authors

//published 2014//

This is a collection of three novellas, each by a different author, and each for a different winter month.  There are actually twelve novellas altogether for a year of weddings.  In this first collection, I enjoyed each of the stories, although they didn’t particularly inspire me to seek out more of any of the authors’ writing.  (Although I have already read a lot of Denise Hunter’s books.)

December Bride by Denise Hunter – 3.5/5 – this was a really fun fake romance trope story, with characters who were relatable, pleasant, and had good chemistry.  The situation was plausible, and I liked how they both had their doubts, but it didn’t descend into nothing but internal angst.  The story is set in Chapel Springs, where several of Hunter’s other books take place, but was a completely individual story.

January Bride by Deborah Raney – 4/5 – this was my favorite out of the three, about an author who ends up writing letters to a fellow she has never met.  The whole story was just adorable fluff.  I loved the misconceptions they had about each other and how that played into their comfort with sharing letters.  I would have enjoyed having more of their letters and less of the drama of the fellow getting over his guilt about falling in love again (his first wife died several years earlier), but all in all a really fun little story.

February Bride by Betsy St. Amant – 3/5 – while this wasn’t a bad story by any means – and I actually really liked the characters – sooo much of this story was just listing to the protagonist internally bemoan how she just isn’t good enough to marry this guy and how their marriage would be doomed to failure if she even tried.  I think this story would have worked better at a longer length, where those internal monologues could have been broken up more with a bit of actual things happening.  Like, she had valid points and important issues she needed to work through, but because so much time was spent on those, the whole story kind of dragged a bit.

All in all, a fun collection of stories, and I’m looking forward to checking out Spring Brides next!