daughters of the bride book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

I love the stories of Susan Mallery. That said, however, Daughters of the Bride didn’t quite do it for me. It had the aura of having been assembled by a committee, some of whom weren’t always present in the resolution meeting.

There are actually five women playing major roles here: Maggie Watson, the bride-to-be; her daughters – divorced Rachel, too-often engaged Sienna, and Courtney, the under-appreciated. In addition to these four, there is Joyce, who could almost be Maggie’s mom – she’s old enough. But while not that, she is definitely a very good friend to Maggie, plus being Courtney’s boss and mentor.

Maggie was widowed very young, her daughters were respectively 9, 6, and 3. Her husband had not provided for a future without him, forcing Maggie to dig in and work—hard—to care for her daughters. But he had been the one with the education, which made Maggie’s task all the harder. She lost their home for lack of funds to make payments, but Joyce stepped in and housed them all at her hotel. As soon as Maggie could afford it, she did move out and supported her daughters, financially. But it took a while, and unfortunately, emotional support didn’t always follow.

In the meantime, Joyce wasn’t doing so well on the domestic front either, as her daughter ran away, leaving her young son, Quinn in Joyce’s care. But at least Joyce had the hotel as an income source, as well as housing.

Twenty-four years later, Maggie meets Neil, who proposes, and the wedding will be everything she ever wanted, which she didn’t get the first time around. She could almost be in training to be a real Bride-zilla! Of course, her daughters will be her bridesmaids, and everything that isn’t nailed down will be PINK!!!!

Courtney is featured more prominently at the beginning of the book, as most of the action is centered around the hotel, where she lives and works. Courtney considers herself the ugly duckling of the family, being over-tall, gawky and thought of as slow. She’d been held back – twice – in grade school for a learning disability that was finally diagnosed and from then on, life was a bit easier, but not totally. She quit school before she graduated, and could have ended up in a bad situation, but for learning about the possibility of getting a GED, and possibly attending college. Wow! Courtney took off like a rocket!

Unknown to anyone but Joyce, she is now only two semesters away from her bachelor’s degree, and she longs for the day she can show off her diploma. For now, though, it’s a secret only known by Joyce. Her family think she’s just a maid at the hotel, although she does fill in as a server at times. What they don’t know is that she is in charge of nearly all event planning for the hotel which has expanded greatly in the previous years. She ends up planning her Mom’s wedding, but it’s a BIG secret, except to Joyce.

Joyce’s 41-year-old grandson has become a legend in the music producing business, and after years of high living in LA, decides to come back to be closer to his Grandmother, now in her mid-70s. Neither of them has anyone else, so why not?  It’s an instant attraction between Courtney and Quinn, but one fought by both of them.

Sienna, the beautiful one, is a well-respected employee of a non-profit that not only rescues abused women (and children) but also provides housing for them. She is the major solicitor of donations to keep the agency functioning. She accepts her beauty as just being there, but has broken two engagements by this time, when she is nearly bush-whacked by David, who is entranced by her beauty, without paying any attention to her business acumen. (This last sentiment is heavily echoed by her family.)

Rachel has only ever loved one man – her former husband, Greg, a firefighter for their community. They have a son Josh, who thrives on the company and attention of his Dad, who no longer lives with them. He blew it all with a one-night stand (for no good reason, of course) but Rachel took it seriously. They can’t quite decide if they want to try again or not.

All of these stories get their own space in this big book – 400 pages! But, it’s all just too much and yet not enough! The characters are all great, and all contribute to the overall enjoyment, but the attention paid to each differs greatly in content and explanation. Courtney’s advocate on this committee did the best job of getting her subject front and center for what seemed like at least half the time. Not that the others were excluded at any point, but they were like walk-ons whereas Courtney was mostly center stage. She gets the only love scene, as a matter of fact, and it’s a wonder she and Quinn didn’t start an inferno in the process! Whooo!

The ending is too sudden and leaves the reader saying “wha-“? You almost want to yell out “Hey! Catch that story! It needs to come back here and be finished.”

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HQN Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.