Series: Magnolia Brides, #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, November 2015
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Jenni Beth Beaumont thought she left her broken heart in Chance, Georgia, when she moved away. But when she suddenly inherits her family's beautiful, antebellum home, her dream of turning the residence into a wedding destination calls her back.
Cole Bryson, an architectural salvager and Jenni Beth's former flame, intends to purchase and deconstruct the Beaumont family's down-at-the-heels estate. To his surprise, Jenni Beth is more of a stubborn Southern girl than he thought. Cole will have to use all his sultry, steamy tricks to test more than the resolve of his sexy competition…
I wanted so desperately to love this story. A Southern girl after my own heart, returning home to start a boutique wedding planner service that will save her parents’ estate and hopefully their town. Yet despite his best intentions, Cole Bryson is hell bent on disrupting Jenni’s best laid wedding plans. It sounds almost picturesque, right?
From the first page, the relationship between Jenni Beth and Cole was convulted. Austin threw the reader in without any warning or backstory – it felt like pages were missing from the story, instead of a smooth opening to the characters and their story. The introduction to Jenni Beth, ending her last night as a wedding planner in Savannah, isn’t too bad…until Austin throws in Cole. Then it feels like the narrative is abandoned in favor of setting up a clunky sexual tension between the two.
The odd relationship continues as Jenni Beth heads home, and Cole…follows? He starts to intervene in her life, following her to the bank to “help” with her business loan, then to the quilt shop that’s going under… The lack of character development and the awkward, stilted relationship was the biggest reason I put down Best Laid Wedding Plans after 50 pages.
The other major reason this book is heading back to the library? The horribly awkward Southern cliches that threaded through the dialogue. Instead of feeling welcoming and friendly, they felt awkward, making me more aware than ever I was looking at typeface on a page instead of a story of love. I couldn’t stop seeing them. It was jolting and slightly uncomfortable.
Instead of finding a warm, small-town romance about a wedding planner and the one she let get away, Best Laid Wedding Plans fell flat. It needed a burst of humanity, of character, and a stronger narrative to create the story the title and blurb promised.