I’ve received another review request from Sharon Kleve, this time for her soon to be published title The Reluctant Bride. It will be published on the 2nd of May this year and it’s another fun and sweet short romance, like I’ve come to expect from this author.
In it, we meet Penelope whose last boyfriend cheated on her. This has prompted her to give up men and she no longer really believes in love. Which is a little strange considering she’s a wedding planner. The day we meet her, the wedding of her best friend and boss is in full swing and she’s busy working to keep everything running smoothly. However, she is distracted by Ferguson, a friend of the groom’s, who seems to always be hanging around her. Ever since she picked him up from the airport a few days earlier, she can’t same to shake him. And he keeps on putting her off-balance.
Ferguson himself has been recently hurt in the love department. He was a player but was ready to settle down with his ex. But it turns out, she was using him and his work as a P.I. for the book she was writing. His heart has been bruised and he kept women at a distance for a while. That is, until he met Penelope. He is immediately smitten with her and tries to win her over.
There is a lot of back-and-forth between them, since they are clearly attracted to each other but they are having some trust issues. Ferguson is determined to get to know Penelope better and sees she’s attracted to him but hesitant to act on it. So he makes sure to keep her a little off-kilter, to run into her a few times, to be there when she needs him. He is not pushy about it and he doesn’t try to force anything. He just makes sure to be around, should she need him. Penelope’s reaction to this is quite endearing. She doesn’t seem to realise what he is doing, but she is very aware of him. She’s even developed a little tic, an eye twitch, whenever he’s around cause she is holding back so much.
When they give in to their attraction, a close relationship develops rather quickly. Penelope decides to take a chance on love again and they fall madly in love. The story ends with their wedding, which control-freak Penelope didn’t have anything to do with. Early on in the story, she told Ferguson what her own dream wedding was like. After he proposed, she gave complete control to Ferguson to plan their wedding, all she has to do is show up. Again, another weird little detail about Penelope. She is a wedding planner herself, and quite a control freak at that. But she lets Ferguson, a guy with zero planning experience, take over? I guess this is symbolic, meant to show the reader how much Penelope trusts and loves Ferguson, that she allows him to arrange it all. Naturally, it turns out to be an amazing wedding, exactly what she wanted all along.
As I already mentioned, I like the way their relationship developed. Penelope has qualms, and Ferguson is really aware and respectful of them. He is there when she needs him, but he isn’t pushy or manipulative in any way. They work well together as a couple and complement each other perfectly. I also liked her wedding by the way, more than the wedding she plans in the beginning. It’s a really low-key wedding, with only their best friends and closest family. And it’s not a really stiff affair, no buffets or fancy meals. Instead there are a number of food stalls selling comfort food and an entire dessert table. Just what I like!
I’d recommend this story as a quick read to anyone looking for a sweet romance, with a heavy dose of wedding magic!