Genre: Romance, contemporary
Series: The Bride Quartet
Year of publication: 2009
No. in series: 2
Setting & time: Greenwich, Connecticut, USA; contemporary
Level of sensuality: Several breathless sex scenes and cute moments with kissing
Emma, friend and business partner to Mac, heroine of the first book in the Bride Quartet, is the highly-skilled florist of Vows, the all-exclusive wedding-planning business they run together. She has long harboured a secret crush on Jack, an architect who is among her best friends. He is also interested in her, but hasn’t acted on it because of his close friendship with Parker’s brother who considers Emma, Mac and Laurel as his honorary sisters and is highly protective of them.
After he helps her when her car breaks down late at night it becomes clear to them both that the attraction is mutual and after some initial hesitation they plunge into a passionate love affair. But their friendship, combined with Emma’s desire for the "happily ever after" package and Jack’s commitment phobia puts some hurdles in their way.
If you read my review of the first book, you’ll know I didn’t like it much (apart from the scrumptious nerd hero). This one, however, I did like. It’s not going on my keeper shelf, but I think it deserves a better rating because while equally formulaic, it is better put together. Roberts even managed to surprise me a couple of times when I thought I knew where the story was headed.
Both the hero and heroine are reminiscent of characters seen before in Roberts’ books, but unlike in the previous book, the two are more balanced and equal to each other. Mac in Vision in White felt too flat, too stock, to me to balance well with Carter, who felt very much alive, but here I get about the same feeling of recognition for both characters, both of whom she has fleshed out enough to make them distinct and equal.
The plot is the classic “friends-to-lovers” story, skilfully told and written in Robert’s usual readable style. Some of the twists are foreseeable, while others surprise. The best gauge of quality is that this is the first Nora Roberts novel to bring tears to my eyes since I read the Chesapeake Bay trilogy. Tears didn’t actually fall, but there was definitely increased moistness in the corners of my eyes when I was reading the climax and denouement. For that, and for the better balancing of plot and characters than the previous book, it gets 3+ stars.
The next book in the series also seems set to be a “friends-to-lovers” story, this one between people who see each other like brother and sister. I’m looking forward to seeing how Roberts handles that one without making it feel incestuous.