It’s the time of year for this reviewer to put her feet up and relax in her favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea and a book in her hand. This season that book is HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Nora Roberts, the final installment of her Bride Quartet. The community that Roberts creates with her characters is so real that it seems like one might run into these people at the bookstore, library or shopping mall. Readers feel happy when love enters their lives, the way one would be for good friends.
It was Parker Brown’s idea to create a partnership with her friends, producing weddings. The childhood make-believe game of getting married is now a grown-up business called Vows. Emma does the flowers, Mac takes the photos, and Laurel makes the wedding cakes and luscious pastries. The Brown family home in Connecticut, which Parker inherited along with her brother Del, provides the elegant place for weddings and engagement parties to be held. It is glorious with its landscaped grounds and wonderful rooms. The descriptions of the flowers, food and dresses enhance this story of love and romance. What a celebration these fine characters develop for all of the weddings they’re planning in this book. We are also caught up with the three women and their own impending marriages. Roberts creates such a vivid experience that readers will feel as if they have been invited to the ceremonies, and will become a part of the marriage of Mac and Carter.
Parker is the brain of the organization at Vows. She makes everything work behind the scenes and has an ability to anticipate the client’s wishes and make the event run smoothly and seem effortless. She is detail-oriented and takes on the role of crisis counselor for her clients, yet she is the only one of the four women who has not yet found her true love. This book is all about her romance and finding “the right guy.”
It just so happens that the guy is Malcomb Kavanaugh, a friend of her brother’s. Mal is a former stunt man who owns a garage business in Greenwich, Connecticut, and lives with his mother, who helps him run the shop and has grown up in a lifestyle completely different from Parker’s. He is also her auto mechanic. Wise Mrs. Grady, who has been a cook and a housekeeper with Parker’s family, says to her, “it is hard to resist a bad boy who is a good man.”
Will these two people be able to find their common ground together? Only time will tell as they spend time with each other and try their relationship out amidst their friends, Parker’s protective brother and Mal’s mother. When Mal’s uncle turns up as a wedding guest of one of Vow’s clients and makes a comment about Mal’s relationship with Parker, a near rift occurs between the two. However, Parker, who knows how to take risks in business, is willing to do so with Mal. As Parker says, “I have gone completely off script since I began dating this man.” She recognizes that taking a risk on loving Mal may be her chance to find “happily ever after” for herself and the man she loves.
Nora Roberts has always been known for her satisfying series. Her stories engage readers with a sense of family and community as they celebrate the human experience of love, her words telling us a little bit about ourselves. She’s the quintessential romance storyteller who this reviewer always turns to when she’s ready for that experience of reading about two people falling in love.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on January 5, 2011