Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Emma Rae Creation # 2
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Number of pages:  320 pages
My copy: ebook ARC from Netgalley

As a wedding planner, you’d thinkshe would have the perfect wedding experience…

Sherilyn Caine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details.

But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?

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I read and enjoyed Sandra D. Bricker’s other book, Always the Baker, Never the Bride last year, and I honestly had no idea that this was a part of a series. So when I saw the galley for this book on Netgalley, I was pleasantly surprised. The first book wasn’t a favorite, but I liked it enough for me to get the sequel and read it in between pages of a ghost story I was also currently reading.

In Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride (which will be known as AWPNTB from now on — what a long title), we meet an old friend of the heroine from the first book, Sherilyn Caine. She’s a wedding planner and she fits right in the Tanglewood Hotel’s wedding planning staff. Sherilyn is also moving back home to get married with her fiance, Andrew Drummond IV, who she has met only a few months ago. Their engagement was short, sure, but they love each other — that should be enough right? But why is it that none of their wedding plans are pushing through?

AWPNTB is a fun read, especially since there are all those familiar characters that I liked last year. There was also the Southern charm that most Christian chick lit has, and it made me want to really see if Atlanta was as nice as it was written in these books. The book stays true to its wedding themes, too, and I liked the little wedding checklists written in between the chapters, as well as some of the recipes (like cookies) that Emma the baker plays with.

This had more marriage and wedding stuff compared to the first book, so to be totally honest, I wasn’t able to relate. Oh sure, I know a lot about weddings, given that my brother got married just last year and that he works as a wedding videographer, so I get regular doses of wedding magic. But being someone who has no plans of settling down anytime soon, I really couldn’t relate to the things that Sherilyn worried about. I felt bad for her, yes, but that was just it. I can’t really empathize — not yet, anyway.

Okay, maybe I feel that way because Sherilyn and Andy seemed to be products of “insta-love”, and I’m not really much of a fan of that. They knew each other for less than a year and then they’re getting married — how about that? But the good thing is, the issues about this quick engagement were tackled really well. The doubts, the quirks and the little issues that came up were addressed well, and even I was surprised with the last thing that ultimately gave Sherilyn and Andy reason to think about their relationship. I also liked how Sherilyn came into her final realization. It’s sweet and I guess, true. Not that I would know now, of course, but I’d like to believe that it is. :)

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is a nice installment to the Emma Rae Creation series, even if it I wasn’t able to relate to it that much. I dare say I will still pick up the next book, Always the Designer, Never the Bride. I wonder what crazy love-related and wedding antics the main characters will get into then?

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Long and Short Reviews

Have your cake and eat it too

Always the Baker Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Emma Rae Creation # 1

Publisher: Abingdon Press
Number of pages: 288 pages
My copy: ebook ARC from Netgalley

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But who would want a cake they couldn’t eat?

Just ask Emma Rae Travis about that. She’s a baker of confections who is diabetic and can’t enjoy them. When Emma meets Jackson Drake, the escapee from Corporate America who is starting a wedding destination hotel to fulfill a dream that belonged to someone else, this twosome and their crazy family ties bring new meaning to the term “family circus.” The Atlanta social scene will never be the same!

* * *

It’s kind of funny that the next NetGalley ARC I read is another book that has recipes and other cooking tips in them, but this time, the characters are way older than Ariel, M and Nicki from The Crepemakers’ Bond were. I guess it’s fate, or maybe even divine, as far as books go, because reading them almost consecutively gives me an idea on how different YA/MG chick lit is to adult chick lit.

You know another funny thing? There seemed to be a lot of Christian chick lit that is set in the South. Atlanta, specifically. Maybe it’s because there are more writers from that area? Or is it because it’s just a charming place to set a story in, because in this book, I am charmed. :)

Emma Rae Travis is an award-winning contradiction — she’s the best baker in town, but she’s also diabetic, so she isn’t allowed to eat more than three bites of her baked confections. But the real point of the story isn’t her diabetes, but her baked goods and how it helped her meet Jackson Drake, owner of the new Tanglewood Hotel. Pretty soon, Emma is a part of the hotel staff and with Jackson’s crazy and efficient sisters, her semi-goth best friend Fiona and her separated parents…well, it’s a circus, alright.

I love myself a good chick lit, obviously, as it’s the genre I really started loving in the first place. I found that I hardly get to read much chick lit though, because there doesn’t seem to be many quality chick lit out there. It’s easy for chick lit to be stereotyped because it seems like there’s only one story line for all books like that. I beg to differ, though, because there’s a plethora of stories that can be written under that genre. You don’t need a fashionista girl with a gay best friend living in a busy city working as a writer promoting weight loss pills and looking for Mr. Right for a book to be chick lit!

This is why I liked Always the Baker, Never the Bride because it doesn’t fall under the usual chick lit stereotype. Sure, the leading man is handsome, and sure there’s a crazy family, but I liked that Emma is her own person, and she’s not a fashion slave. Emma is a bright and strong protagonist, one that I can’t help but get attached to as I read the book. The best thing I loved about Emma? She’s a baker! I bake, too, so that is definitely something I can relate to, but I am sure I won’t be as good as her because my cakes tend to fall apart before I can even get them out of the oven. :P

The Christian aspect of this novel is well written, too, and I liked how it wasn’t preachy. Prayer was subtly incorporated, and Jackson’s grief and fears were real for a guy his age and with his experience. Emma’s religious conflict, though, felt a bit blurry. By blurry, I wasn’t sure why she was having the conflict in the first place — maybe I missed it in the first few pages? I wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t grow up in that environment or she lost it along the way, so her religious transformation didn’t leave a mark in me as much as I wanted it to. I do like the romantic dynamics explained in this novel, though, especially the concept of After Care. Ever wondered why some guys act so sweet and do something special and then disappear afterwards (and it drives us crazy that we over think so much)? That is after care. :P I’d leave you to read the book to understand what it is, but if you’re really curious, I may just explain it off the review. :P

This is a cute and fluffy read, and the romance was nice and well-developed, too. However, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the end. I was waiting for a big “oomph”, a big conflict that would wreak havoc with Emma and Jackson and everything they worked for, but I felt like it never came. I also felt that Emma’s diabetes wasn’t properly spotlighted, but maybe that wasn’t really the point of the story, so I could let that go. I just didn’t find the game-changing (and sometimes tears-inducing) climax that I found in the other Christian chick lit books I read this year in this one, so that part just kind of made this just okay. It wasn’t bad, I wasn’t disappointed, but I felt that it needed a bit more to make it more memorable.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride is already out paperback. Thanks to Netgalley for the ebook ARC!

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