Review

Picture Perfect: Weddings by Design, Book 1

by Janice Thompson

Hannah McDermott is her own worst enemy. Despite evidence to the contrary, she refuses to recognize her photography talent and considers herself not quite good enough at anything. She is haunted by memories of her high school nemesis, Jacquie Goldfarb, and dwells on “what-could-have-been”s. On top of all that, Hannah has a hard time opening up and revealing her true feelings. Oh --- and, at 26, she still lives at home with her parents. Of course, these faults and weaknesses make up the perfect blend for the quirky main character we’d expect from author Janice Thompson.

Hannah has landed her dream job. She has been retained to take photos for the wedding of country western singing sensation Sierra Caswell. Who cares if Sierra is worse than any bride-to-be ever to appear on “Bridezilla”? This gig could catapult Hannah’s photography business to the next level and beyond. Especially if she lands on esteemed wedding coordinator Bella Neely’s list of recommended photographers.

"Although PICTURE PERFECT doesn’t contain a heavy, engrossing plot or a lot of character depth, the quirky main cast, delightful narrative and interesting setting make it the book it is meant to be: a quick, fun, feel-good read, with doses of truth sprinkled throughout."

There’s only one problem. And it happens to come in the form of a blond-haired, blue-eyed hunk named Drew Kinkaid. Also a professional photographer, Drew is her competitor. At least in Hannah’s mind. He is her “Jacquie Goldfarb.” Her archrival. And Hannah is determined to out-do the competition. If only she could turn off the electricity that shoots through her every time he comes near.

PICTURE PERFECT is the first title in the Weddings by Design series, set on Galveston Island, Texas. As Thompson is known to do, she has included many characters from her previous Weddings by Bella and Backstage Pass series. You’ll be reacquainted with Bella Neely, Brock Benson, and even the unforgettable Splendora sisters. Thompson has a knack for creating main characters with a strong culturally-centered family, such as the Italian Rossis (Weddings by Bella) and the Greek Pappas (Hello, Hollywood!). In PICTURE PERFECT, readers are treated to the luck of the Irish. Of course, as Hannah says, she doesn’t believe in luck, but she is proud of her Irish heritage. I personally enjoyed the cultural focus, from the various references throughout the story to the Irish blessings, sayings, proverbs and limericks included at the beginning of each chapter. Some were sweet, some cute, and a few downright hilarious. One of my favorites is from chapter five:

An elderly man called Keith
Mislaid his set of false teeth---
They’d been laid on a chair,
He’d forgot they were there,
Sat down, and was bitten beneath
   --- Irish Limerick

As for the main characters, Hannah is adorable and endearing. Her story is told in first person, allowing readers to get into her head and experience her insecurities for themselves. She’s easy to root for, especially when she’s tripping over her words or showing up at an important meeting wearing two different shoes.

Contrasting Hannah’s many imperfections is Drew, who seems to be a cut-out of Mr. Perfect. I found myself searching for a flaw or two, but I couldn’t find one. My favorite characters are Hannah’s parents. Her father is a bit “old school” and thrives on routine. Her mother, after years of catering to her family, is finally getting to know herself and comes into her own, much to her father’s shock --- and, later, delight. Another character worth mentioning is Hannah’s best friend and cake baker, Scarlett Lindsey, whose story will be told in book two of the Weddings by Design series, ICING ON THE CAKE, releasing in August 2013.

Although PICTURE PERFECT doesn’t contain a heavy, engrossing plot or a lot of character depth, the quirky main cast, delightful narrative and interesting setting make it the book it is meant to be: a quick, fun, feel-good read, with doses of truth sprinkled throughout. The references to “Dancing with the Stars” will put a spring in your step, and the amusing storyline will likely leave you with a smile on your face. For the lighthearted romance fan, this makes for a picture-perfect combination.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on March 14, 2013

Picture Perfect: Weddings by Design, Book 1
by Janice Thompson