Review: Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery

Review: Daughters of the Bride by Susan MalleryDaughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance
Pages: 416
Published by HQN Books on July 12th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository

With Joy, Love and a Little Trepidation, Courtney, Sienna and Rachel Invite You to the Most Emotional Wedding of the Year… Their Mother's
~ The Misfit ~

As the awkward one, Courtney Watson may not be as together as her sisters, but she excels at one thing—keeping secrets, including her white-hot affair with a sexy music producer. Planning Mom's wedding exposes her startling hidden life, changing her family's view of her—and how she views herself—forever.
~ The Free Spirit ~

When Sienna's boyfriend proposes—in front of her mom and sisters, for crying out loud—he takes her by surprise. She already has two broken engagements under her belt. Should she say "I do" even if she's not sure she does?
~ The Cynic ~

Rachel thought love would last forever…right up until her divorce. As Mom's wedding day draws near and her ex begs for a second chance, she's forced to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about why her marriage failed, and decide if she'll let pride stand in the way of her own happily-ever-after.

My Review:

I’m not sure whether I decided that since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, I might as well read this book, or whether I started reading this book and decided that sleep was temporarily overrated. Or perhaps a bit of both. I finished at 4 am. While I paid for that the next morning, I certainly had a great time while I was reading!

This is a lovely story. It is mostly a second chance at love story, with the added fillip of one hot new romance. One of the great things about this story is the way that it gently turns a few of the tried and true conventions on their heads.

The wedding that is planned during this book, and finally happens at the end, is the wedding of 50-something Maggie. Maggie was widowed over 20 years ago, left with three daughters to raise, no money and no job. Although she very nearly lost everything, she was helped by Joyce, another woman who had been widowed young, but had become a successful hotel owner in their small town.

Maggie was Joyce’s second-chance at raising a family, because when Joyce had found herself in the same situation Maggie faced, she built her business at the expense of her relationship with her daughter. History has unfortunately repeated. Maggie pulled through, and now has a second chance at happiness with widower Neil. But while she struggled her daughters all took the brunt of Maggie’s desperation – and in very different ways.

Rachel was the oldest, and was forced to become her mother’s helpmeet at age 9. Her inability to let go of responsibility cost her her marriage. Beautiful but initially shallow Sienna is a commitment-phobe – engaged twice so far but never making it to the altar. Youngest daughter Courtney hides herself in plain sight. Very tall and occasionally awkward, her family has come to assume that anything Courtney touches will turn into disaster. But that image, while it may have been true once, is now far, far from the real Courtney.

So while Maggie turns just a bit into a bridezilla, using this second chance at love as a second chance to plan the wedding of her dreams she was denied as a young bride, her daughters do their best to go with the flow, help their mom, and stake their own claims on a happy ever after.

Escape Rating A-: This is, as I said, a lovely story. And it was definitely a case of the right story at the right time. I was looking for something that was light and happy but still had some meat to it, and the various perspectives on life, love and happiness provided by these three very different sisters turned out to be just what I was looking for.

At first the three sisters seem a bit stereotypical. The oldest is over-responsible, the middle child is cool and unemotional, and the baby is a klutzy disaster. But none of them are quite what they seem.

Well, Rachel is. She really can’t let go of responsibility. So that is her journey, to let someone in, to trust someone to help her and be there for her. That person is her ex-husband. Somewhere in the two years since their divorce, he’s grown up and learned to communicate. But it’s both hard for Rachel to give up her need to be the martyr, and her fear that anyone she relies on will invariably let her down. Just the way that her dad let her mom down. Not by dying, which was horrible, but by doing nothing to plan for their future or make sure that they would be taken care of. He was irresponsible and they all paid the price.

Sienna is hard to get a handle on, and we see the least of her perspective. It’s fairly obvious to the reader that she falls into relationships because they look good on paper, not because they are good for her. And that the right man for her has been with her all along. She just needs to wake up and see what’s right in front of her. Or who’s right beside her.

Much of the drama in this story centers around Courtney. She’s always been a disappointment to her family, and none of them of have bothered not to make her aware of it at every turn. Her learning disability held her back in school, and her mother was too absorbed in getting her career going to pay attention to the difficulties that Courtney was having until Courtney’s position as the family disaster was well established. It isn’t a surprise that now that Courtney has her life in gear, she hides her successes from her family. She believes that they will discount and dismiss everything she has done, and she’s probably right. But when the secrets are finally revealed, the effects are devastating.

Everyone has to re-evaluate who they are, and who they are to each other. And that’s a difficult thing to do. As a reader, I felt for each of them, they represent many women at different points in their lives in a way that definitely struck a chord for me. If you like stories of love and sisterhood (whether that is blood-sisterhood or sisterhood of the heart) I bet that Daughters of the Bride will strike a chord with you, too.

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