Save the Date
It truly wouldn’t be summer without a new book from Mary Kay Andrews. Never one to disappoint her fans, Andrews has outdone herself in SAVE THE DATE, perhaps her best novel to date. Set in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, it is a literary smorgasbord of flowers, weddings, love interests, designer puppies, gardens and more.
Meet 36-year-old divorcee Cara Kryzik, an up-and-coming but struggling floral designer in Savannah’s historic district. She spends her days crafting beautiful arrangements (which Andrews describes in wonderful detail) for a variety of purposes, mostly for decadent southern weddings. Cara works side by side with Bert, her employee and best friend, and Poppy, her adorable yet ever-escaping goldendoodle puppy. A loan from her father, a former Army colonel she hasn’t seen in three years, has kept her little business, Bloom, afloat. However, one equipment failure after another has kept her from sending him regular payments, a fact that he calls more and more frequently to point out.
The book begins on the first Saturday in May, a busy day heralding the start of the two-month wedding season. Things are buzzing at Bloom: the flower cooler has conked out overnight, there are last-minute trips to the wholesaler, and a morning meeting is scheduled with a prospective couple (Bert gives them less than three years because his attuned gaydar starts pinging as soon as the groom walks in). It is the day of the much-heralded Fanning-Finnerty wedding. Torie Fanning is the most demanding bride Cara has ever encountered, along with the “smother of the bride,” Lillian, whose attention to detail even extends to whether the altar candles are ecru or ivory.
Cara and Tom load up the decrepit delivery van with floral arrangements and are all set to head to the church on the Isle of Hope when a random customer opens the door of the shop just long enough for Poppy to bound out and away. Cara takes off after her and finds her blocks later, being towed on a rope by a male jogger. Her joy at finding the pooch is short-lived, however, when the exasperated man insists that Poppy is his own goldendoodle, Shaz. Cara tails him back to his fixer-upper of a house and tearfully leaves only after he threatens to call the police. She does have a wedding to get to after all.
"Andrews’s storylines interweave seamlessly into a captivating and entertaining novel that is quite hard to put down. Perfect for the beach or the back deck, SAVE THE DATE is the first absolute must-read for Summer 2014."
Finally at the church, Cara is helping the wedding party adjust bouquets and boutonnieres when the best man, the groom’s brother, appears. Lo and behold, it is the sexy dognapper. The argument between Cara and Jack Finnerty over one little goldendoodle is unceasing and continues at the reception. Eventually, they unwittingly end up paired on the dance floor, but not for long as Jack rudely walks off in the middle of a song.
Jack and Ryan own a historical restoration firm that is finally beginning to take off. Jack’s girlfriend, Zoey, ran off at about the same time with a Jimmy Buffet impersonator, leaving him with the designer puppy she had just purchased. In bed after the wedding, Jack is awakened by a phone call from Zoey in California, who has received a message from the vet that Shaz was found running around Savannah, and they have traced him back to her after scanning his microchip. Jack hears the news while looking at the dog lying on his bed, and, of course, he now realizes that the animal does indeed belong to the woman he has been sparring with all day. Although the exact opposite of his normal type, she intrigues him nonetheless.
Runaway brides, missing family silver, employee poaching, revoked leases, high-maintenance brides and more ensue. A hot florist from Charleston, Cullen Kane, sets his sights on the Savannah floral market, and on getting Cara out of the picture by attempting to undermine her entire business --- and life! Cullen will stop at nothing to become Savannah’s new darling, including beginning a romance with Bert that ultimately drives Cara and Bert apart. Both Cara and Jack’s exes turn back up, and ever present is Cara’s ringing phone, with the Colonel on the other end looking for his money.
Andrews’s descriptions of weddings --- big, small, traditional, goth --- are fascinating. So is her depiction of the wedding industry, currently a $40 billion business in the United States. From bride-to-bes toting magazines with $1,400 bouquets on the cover to betrothal Pinterest boards, hand-blown vases and custom-made arbors, Andrews has fun with an over-the-top attitude towards what once upon a time were simple double-ring ceremonies. When Cara is tasked with planning the entire event for a shipping magnate’s son and his equally connected fiance, she is handed a budget of $250,000.
Keeping this wedding on the tracks --- with divorced parents, a social-climbing step-MOB, a bride who’s “too busy” to attend most of the meetings about her own nuptials, and a wedding site (the family plantation) that needs a complete transformation (courtesy of the Finnerty brothers) --- could launch Cara into the next level of business. Or it could finish her, especially if the missing Fanning epergne isn’t found. It also will keep her hands full, particularly as she juggles the endeavor with a budding relationship with Jack, a feud with her recently deceased landlord’s daughter, and the ever-present Cullen breathing down her neck.
Andrews’s storylines interweave seamlessly into a captivating and entertaining novel that is quite hard to put down. Perfect for the beach or the back deck, SAVE THE DATE is the first absolute must-read for Summer 2014. Readers will get lost among the wisteria and Spanish moss of Savannah, and when they get to the heartwarming ending, they will be very glad they made a date to read Andrews’s latest, and possibly greatest, book yet.
Reviewed by Jamie Layton on June 6, 2014