Pros: Gorgeous romance, fun characters, fascinating look into the wedding preparation business
Cons: Love seemed to come before the chemistry was truly evident
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book (uncorrected proof) courtesy of Penguin Group
I didn’t expect to get swept up in Nora Roberts’s “Bride Quartet” series when it started. I’ve never been one of those “perfect wedding” dreamers, so the topic didn’t hold much interest for me. However, Ms. Roberts has brought the wedding business and its attendant ups and downs alive so beautifully that I couldn’t help but be drawn in. Happy Ever After is the fourth and final book in the series, exploring super-organized Parker’s unlikely fascination with bad-boy mechanic Malcolm.
Because Parker’s role as organizer of Vows’ events was hard to miss mixed in with earlier books’ tales, there wasn’t quite as much new in the realm of exploring part of the business here. We did get to see a bit more, however, about how the business started and the role her business savvy and determination played. We also learned more about the Brown family and its history in the town.
Parker has always imagined herself having a very orderly romance and marriage with a very normal man—certainly not someone like Mal, who’s constantly surprising her. She’s sure if she allowed herself to fall for him he’d break her heart. As it happens, however, the two of them have more in common than she realizes. He’s been through events that made him grow up quickly. He’s learned to be a savvy businessman as well. And despite appearances to the contrary, he has his own orderly streak. It helps, of course, that all of Parker’s friends are subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push the two of them together. And once Mal’s eccentric mother decides she approves of Parker, the game is truly on!
I did feel that Parker realized she loved Mal just a little too soon. I know that seems strange coming from me, since I normally hate it when characters are dense about that sort of thing, and would rather the conflict came from other quarters. This time, however, it just didn’t seem quite true to character for it to happen so easily. On the other hand, the emotional ups and downs the couple goes through as they adapt to having each other in their lives are new and interesting—not the romance novel stereotype.
There are more fun wedding tales to enjoy this time, including sweet moments, lively mishaps, and cleverly-averted disasters. It isn’t quite as fresh and new this time, but it’s certainly still entertaining and fun. All in all, while this isn’t a perfect finale to the series, it’s a delightful one.