This week romance readers have been treated to an embarassment of riches with all of the new releases from favorite authors. We have new ones from Mary Balogh, Karen Ranney, and Elizabeth Hoyt, just to name a few. There's also the highly anticipated The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie from Jennifer Ashley featuring a hero with Asperger's Syndrome. (I'm in the middle of this one right now and am just fascinated by it.) While browsing at Border's I saw (and had to buy) Lynn Kurland's newest. At last, Zach's story. How did this one fly under my radar? Bad, bad Phyl. But at least I have it. And tomorrow? Carla Kelly's sequel to Marrying the Captain will be available as an ebook at eharlequin. Can I just go without sleep for the next week?
Oh, and let's not forget that the first book in a new quartet from Nora Roberts was also released on Tuesday. This is a return to straight romance with no paranormal elements. Yea! I managed to get my name in early at the library so I was first on the reserve list. I picked it up Tuesday and stayed up well past midnight to finish it that day. So yeah, it was good. Pretty cover, too.
Blurb: Wedding photographer Mackensie "Mac" Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be's brother . . . an encounter that has them both seeing stars.
A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac's type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends--and business partners--to see her way to her own happy ending.
This new series revolves around 4 women who have been life-long friends. As little girls they often played "wedding" and so it was natural for them to go into the wedding business as adults. Mac (heroine of this one) is the photographer, Laurel the baker, Emma does the flowers, and Parker seems to run everything and everyone. Mac and Parker are more fully developed characters in this book, but all four women feature prominently. It was enjoyable to see how they worked together as a team to make weddings happen as smoothly as possible. Ms. Roberts wrote their friendship with a deft hand and there were lots of humorous moments as well as serious ones.
Carter is a slightly shy, nerdy hero which makes him quite different from the usual alpha-male type heroes in most romances. He knew Mac briefly back in high school and had had a crush on her then. He's honest enough to admit it to her now, but it's charming how he stumbles through the admission. Carter makes up his mind pretty quickly that Mac is the woman for him, but Mac has commitment issues that she needs to work through that stem from her absent father and self-centered mother.
This is a purely character-driven story. The conflict comes primarily from the baggage Mac carries and has to work through. We see a lot more of Mac than we do Carter; Mac has more "issues" to deal with, although Carter has a couple of his own, too. An awful lot of the story devoted to Mac's craft as a photographer and how she does her work. I found it interesting and it didn't come across as an info dump. But it was beginning to seem like too much about photography and not enough about Mac and Carter. There is a scene involving a photo shoot of a former bride who is now pregnant and wants a pregnancy portrait. It was interesting and a little emotional in and of itself, but afterwards I'm not sure how much it advanced the story. For me the first half of the book was a little slow, but when the second half begins to focus more on Mac and Carter I found the book impossible to put down. Part of that includes Mac learning to stand up to her manipulative mother which lets us see Mac grow and become more self-confident.
As usual, Ms. Roberts provides a satisfying romance that I can easily recommend. I think I'm going to enjoy reading about the other 3 women when their stories appear. From the excerpt in the back of the book, Emma is next (Dec. 2009). The excerpt doesn't give a glimpse of her hero, but if I read a couple of sentences right in VIW, I think I know who he is.