Four women, who have been friends since childhood, together run a wedding company called Vows. Each woman has control over one aspect of the business. Mackenzie Elliott is the photographer and, despite capturing other people’s special moments every day, is determined to resist every special moment of her own due to a selfish, overdramatic mother who has effectively ruined any concept of romance she might have had. Until Carter Maguire enters her life again, at least. Carter had a huge crush on Mac in high school and it hasn’t gone away, but he needs to convince her that love isn’t always a battlefield.
I actually enjoyed this first book, Vision in White. I didn’t think any woman but Mac was particularly fleshed out, and if they hadn’t had one defining characteristic each, I’m sure I would have mixed them up easily. That one characteristic makes them incredibly shallow, but their relationships still manage to be sweet and makes me think about how nice friends can be. The romance between Mac and Carter was similarly sweet – actually the whole book is probably best described as that. They get together about halfway through and then the book becomes a struggle between Carter loving Mac and Mac determined not to stay with him, which is a little tiring. Overall, though, it wasn’t too bad, and it was perfect for my stress-fogged brain.
In Bed of Roses, Emmaline Grant is the total opposite. She adores romance and has held her parents’ love story as ideal for her entire life. She wants candles, dancing in the moonlight, expensive dinners, and weekends away in New York City. The girls’ close friend Jack Cooke has almost always been attracted to Emma, as most men seem to be, but only just gets the courage to act on it when she realizes she might be reciprocating his feelings. But Jack hesitates with women, and doesn’t want the permanency that is Emma’s goal. She’ll have to convince him that their love is worth it.
I’m sure just by reading that summary it’s pretty obvious that this book is almost a carbon copy of the last one. Sure, some of the events are different, but it’s exactly the same pattern of someone wanting a marriage because their family is perfect and someone determined to avoid it because their parents screwed up. Does every child of divorce remain convinced that marriage isn’t for them? Obviously not, given my own marriage (and those of a number of my friends). This sort of stereotype irritates me because it casts all people as the same. The book was way too predictable on the heels of the last one. The characters are still much too shallow, with virtually one facet each. Parker plans, Emma is romantic, Mac is a tomboy. Laurel is the only one I can’t really pin down as anything but a little outrageous. Jack is defined by his desire to avoid marriage and long-lasting relationships.
I’m sure at least a little part of my dislike of these books is because I’m not really into the wedding thing. My wedding was tiny and involved a minimum of fuss. For these people the wedding practically is the marriage and that’s an attitude I don’t really understand. Their job is wedding planning, of course, so the books contain plenty of details about the days. I may have to reconsider Nora Roberts as one of the only two contemporary romance authors I read, though. I know all romances are predictable to an extent, because they have happy endings, but if I can predict what goes up to the ending as well, I just get bored. And it doesn’t help that she’s already established exactly who is going to match up in the next two books. I find I’m not really interested after all.
I am an Amazon Associate. I bought these books (at a charity shop, which I am now happy about, and where I suspect they will go back.)