Friday, January 14, 2011

"Happy Ever After" by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts "Bridal Quartet" series comes to an end with Parker's story in "Happy Ever After".

Parker Brown is the brains behind the Quartet's wedding business, Vows.  She lives with her Blackberry glued to her side and makes herself accessible to her brides 24/7.  In all three of the previous books, Parker is the sensible one.  She would die for her friends and is fiercely loyal but a major control freak.  Nothing ever seems to trip her up.

Until Malcolm Kavanaugh.

Malcolm makes me want to sigh.  He is the bad boy that we all want, only better.  His character is introduces in book two; he is the mechanic that Emma has her car taken to but it is Parker who picks it up and we can see sparks starting to flare between the two back then.  Showing up again in book three, Malcolm and Parker share two steamy kisses but Parker is in denial about them meaning anything.  In "Happy Ever After", Malcolm is a man on a mission and that mission is to have Parker Brown.

While Malcolm is a working man who comes from a modest background, his business is a successful one and he, too, is friends with Parker's brother Del.  He fits easily in to the Quartet's circle but he has the ability to make Parker nervous and unsure of herself; mainly because he isn't afraid to stand up to her and call her on her behavior.  He has a tendency to catch Parker when she is most vulnerable and makes her appear more human.  Although it is a little difficult at this point in the series to see strong and stable Parker Brown continually second-guessing herself.

Their romance is steamy and sensual and when Malcolm simply says "Invite me in to your bed", I don't know a woman who would tell him no!  He keeps Parker on her toes till the end but one of the highlights of their relationship is his mother - Ma Kavanaugh.  Her descriptive appearance is near comical and while she used to work as a waitress at parties that the Brown family used to throw, she and Parker get along like old friends.  Again, Parker's human side comes through and you can tell that she is just a very classy individual.

"Happy Ever After" is a great ending to an amazing series.  The Epilogue brought tears to my eyes and yet there was no other way to end it - predictable though it was.  Another great Nora Roberts series!

"Savor the Moment" by Nora Roberts

"The Bridal Quartet" series continues with book three, "Savor the Moment"

Laurel McBane did not grow up privileged like her friends, but she has worked hard to be where she is today; as a partner and master pastry chef and baker extraordinaire for Vows.  While Laurel has come off up to this point as pretty standoffish and not tolerant of others, we see her softer side come to light as Nora Roberts tells her story.

Growing up with Parker Brown for a best friend was easy, hiding her love for Parker's brother Delaney was suddenly very difficult.  While Del has always considered the Quartet to be his family, his responsibility, he has no idea what to do when Laurel, in a fit of rage, kisses his senseless.  After giving Jack such a hard time about dating Emma back in book two, Del is unsure how to go about having a relationship with Laurel without breaking their friendship or upsetting the balance with their friends.

Laurel has a lot of insecurities and the fact that she comes from a lowly background and is now dating one of the wealthiest men in Connecticut has her unable to ignore the whispers behind her back or the finger pointing.  In one particularly ugly scene with Mac's mom, everything that Laurel ever feared and doubted comes to life.  Unfortunately, she is so afraid to lose what she has with Del, what she has wanted for so long, that she is willing to keep her fears and her true feelings bottled up inside.

While I like Del, I felt that Nora Roberts was brutally accurate in how a man might be in a relationship with a woman he's know forever but only recently started being romantically involved with; he is slightly neglectful.  For a man with impeccable manners, he seems to take Laurel for granted at times and while it makes him more human, more real (for lack of a better word), it just takes a little of the shine off of his armor.

In the end, Del forces Laurel to admit to her feelings and their story has a lovely ending.  "Savor the Moment" is a great entry in to this series but I am positively giddy about Parker's story in the final book in the installment!

"Bed of Roses" by Nora Roberts

Book two in the "Bridal Quartet" series is possibly my favorite in the series.  This time Nora Roberts tells the story of Vows' florist Emmaline Gant or Emma, in "Bed of Roses".

Emma is the romantic in the group; hopelessly optimistic and out to help the world to fall in love.  She has exotic looks and I sort of picture her as a more innocent looking Eva Langoria, if you can picture that.  

Emma's story tackles the age-old dilemma of when friends become lovers.  Jack Cooke is an architect as well as best friends with Parker's (the resident wedding planner) brother.  Being best friends with the family and witness to the bond within 'the Quartet', Jack is taken by surprise by his attraction to Emma and by her response to him!

Torn between loyalty to their friends and wanting to explore their attraction to one another, "Bed of Roses" is full of lots of sexual tension, teasing and playing as well as how the bonds of friendship can be both fragile and strong.

Parker's brother becomes a strong part of this story because of his lifelong friendship with Emma as well as being college buddies and best friends with Jack.  Delaney has been like a big brother to Emma and considers her family so the thought of his best friend not only hitting on but sleeping with his little sister does not sit well with him but also helps to establish his relationship with the quartet.  Del's story will be told in this series but particularly in this story, we learn the most about him.

As Jack and Emma's relationship progresses, we see how someone as beautiful and confident as Emma can still be insecure and afraid to open her heart - even when it's to someone who was a friend first.  In Jack we see a man who is still dealing with the aftereffects of his own parents divorce and that keeps him from ever getting too involved.  The problem is, he has chosen to get involved with the one woman whose whole life is about love and being involved and finding happily ever after.

The great part about this book, well, one of the great parts about this book, that differs from the first in the series, is that the male lead is so different.  In "Vision in White" Carter is a very soft and cuddly and shy man who really seems to have no flaws other than the fact that he is clumsy.  But Jack, well, we get to see Jack behave at his worst - something that most women will admit to having seen in the men in their lives - and that makes him (and the situation) very relatable.

"Bed of Roses" is a Great book!!  I read through it in two days and have since re-read it several times.

"Vision in White" by Nora Roberts

"The Bride Quartet" is the newest series by Nora Roberts and by far, one of my favorites by her.  While I know that she does a lot of mysteries now as J.D. Robb, I still prefer her contemporary women's romances.

"Vision in White" is book one in the series.  The Quartet is made up of four life-long friend:  Mackensie, Emma, Laurel and Parker.  What started out as a childhood game called 'Wedding Day' has turned in to a career for these women who now own a hugely successful  wedding planning business.  Mackensie is the photographer (and subject of book one), Emma is the florist, Laurel the baker and Parker is the ultimate wedding planner.  

Nora Roberts has such a wonderful way of setting the stage, so to speak, so as this book opens in the prologue with the four friends as young girls playing wedding day, it shows you their personalities, even back then, so you will see them and recognize them in the women they are today.

Mackensie comes from a broken home that consists of an absentee father and a self-absorbed, drama queen of a mother.  She is practical and sassy and is not afraid to let her emotions show - even if it means being bitchy.  One day, in walks Carter McGuire.  Mac confuses him for a groom coming in for a consult but soon finds out he is merely brother of the bride.  Carter is studious, extremely shy, a complete klutz and totally adorable to Mac.

As they try to find their way in a relationship, Mac has to overcome her insecurities and manipulations of her forever scheming mother.  But through it all, Carter patiently sits back and waits for her to figure it all out.  They are a great balance to one another and their story shows that you don't have to be perfectly matched to be in love.

A great story that had me itching to get my hands on book two in the series that focuses on resident florist, Emma.  Trust me when I say that if you are a fan of Nora Roberts, don't miss out on this series.