Well, we’ve reached the end of another Nora Roberts mini-series, this time a quartet centered around four childhood friends who are business partners in Vows, a full-service wedding event venue. Each book focuses on one partner, her role of Vows, and her search for love.
In Vision in White, we meet Mackensie (Mac) Elliot, Vows’ engagement and wedding photographer. While in a bridal consultation, Mac meets the bride’s brother, Carter Maguire, a high school English teacher. Mac and Carter are soon involved in what Mac plans to be a casual fling, but Carter has something more serious in mind. Carter first has to break down the walls Mac has built from living through her mother’s multiple divorces.
Bed of Roses brings us the story of Emmaline Grant, Vows’ florist. Emma finds herself attracted to her best friend Parker’s brother’s best friend, Jack. Emma is looking for love; Jack returns the interest but is reluctant to commit. Like Mac, his parents’ divorce has left Jack scarred and unable to believe that marriages can last.
Savor the Moment turns to Vows’ cake baker, Laurel McBane. Laurel has been friends with the Connecticut Browns (seemingly the smaller, fictional equivalent of the Massachusetts Kennedys) since childhood. The fact that she is not from wealth is not a problem in her friendship with Parker, but when she finds herself involved with her longtime crush and Parker’s brother, Delaney (Del), their different socio-economic backgrounds start to bother Laurel.
Finally, in Happy Ever After, we complete the quartet with Parker Brown’s story. Parker is too busy with building Vows for romance but Malcomb (Mal) Kavanaugh doesn’t easily take no for an answer. He also doesn’t easily share his feelings or his past. Parker finds herself falling for Mal but wonders if they can be real partners in life if he refuses to open up.
It’s really difficult for me not to like a Roberts book. She writes lines like “It’s hard to resist a bad boy who’s a good man.” (Happy Ever After) She creates characters so vivid and fun that you want to hang out with them eating pizza and drinking wine on a Saturday night. Carter, particularly, is a great new character type for Roberts. He’s nerdy and klutzy and wholly lovable. This quartet has all that going for it. It also hits my button of loving books and movies with groups of women in strong friendships (Do these exist in the real world?).
Unfortunately, in other ways, this quartet feels flat. The conflicts don’t ring true. When you aren’t wanting to catch a movie with Mac, you are wanting to smack her for not grabbing the adorable Carter and holding on with both hands. You wonder why Laurel is suddenly worried about Del being too wealthy when she has been best friends with Parker and even lived on the Brown estate for years. More, the wedding details, while interesting for a while, take up far too much of the books and weigh them down. In previous mini-series, we had exciting fights against a demon (Sign of Seven Trilogy), an ancient curse (Three Sisters Island Trilogy), or, more realistically, an abusive mother (Chesapeake Bay Saga). Here, we are mired in stripping thorns from roses, posing pictures, and arranging cake layers. Maybe I’m just too far from the wedding planning process, but I was bored. To make it worse, Ms. Roberts does not seem to have been to a wedding in the last two decades as she describes things like cascading bouquets, tulle swags, and substituting groomsmen to even up the sides that have not been in vogue since the 80s. I was bored and distracted. Finally, it bothered me to an irrational degree that the final title is “happy” rather than “happily.”
The Bridal Quartet is an enjoyable read but not Ms. Roberts’ strongest work. I give it a 3 rating overall.
Buy the Bride Quartet from Amazon