>> Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Love blooms in the second novel in Nora Roberts's celebrated Bride Quartet series.Bed of Roses is the second in Roberts' Brides quartet, which features four friends who run a wedding planning business. In this installment, the spotlight shifts to florist Emma. In between the challenges, hard work and sheer fun of planning the most amazing weddings, Emma finds time to fall for her friend Jack.
As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.
In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.
But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion—kiss for blistering kiss—they must trust in their history…and in their hearts.
Through his best friend Del, Jack has been good friends with Del's sister, Parker, and her business partners for years. He's always found Emma attractive, but he's previously been content to stay away. But now suddently they can't keep their hands off each other.
Bed of Roses was quite a mixed bag. Basically, the romance was very lackluster and boring, but I really liked everything else.
Let's start with the good: the wedding planning stuff and the friendship between the four women. I must say I'm extremely surprised at how much I'm enjoying reading about the day-to-day business of planning big, lavish weddings. In real life, it's something that doesn't appeal to me in the least. In fact, the very idea of being in the centre of such a massive affair is enough to make me break out in hives. Spending such big money on one day seems like a waste, too, and I could easily put together a long list of things I'd rather spend the moNey on. And yet... I'm loving reading about the details of it. The Monster Bitch Brides, the satisfaction of making people's dreams come true, the thrill of dealing with the unexpected... I'm eating it all up uncritically, and I'll be quite happy to continue doing that until the end of the series.
And the relationship between Emma, Mac, Lauren and Parker is just as good. Actually, part of the satisfying feeling of reading about the wedding planning is how much they act like a team, and how seeing them doing so really makes their friendship even more real to me. I love how they love each other enough to be confortable with a bit of bitchiness, and are always there to support one another, even after a clash.
I also liked that Emma's cultural background was a bit different (Mexican mother and American father), although to be completely honest, Emma didn't feel any more latina than any other WASP American heroine I've read. Maybe that was on purpose?
Now, however for the romance:
Problem #1: The characters never completely gelled for me. Emma is supposed to be the romantic one among the 4 friends, the one looking for love. And yet, she never seemed to me to be particularly romantic. Same thing for Emma and Jack's friendship. It's supposed to be so important to them that they really hesitate before beginning a romantic relationship, for fear of endangering their friendship. And yet, they never really felt like real friends to me. I got it loud and clear that the attraction between them was scorching hot, yes, but not that they really liked each other, or even knew one another particularly well.
Problem #2: The last bit of #1 leads straight into the fact that I never found the romance particularly compelling. I'd even go as far as to call it boring, and I'm someone who actually loves no-drama romances between nice, decent people.
Problem #3: I said no-drama romance, but that's only most of it. There's a bit to-do at the end, and that was annoying beyond belief. See, the problem is that Emma feels Jack is a commitment-phobe who guards his own personal space so zealously that he's keeping her out of his life. So she basically throws a great big tantrum (and is then backed up by all her friends, who accuse Jack of being hartless and treating her badly), because after only a short time the man is not clamouring to have her move in.
The justification for that was that since they'd be friends for years, surely that's not such a short time, but since I've already mentioned that they didn't act like real friends to me, that argument didn't hold water, and I found Emma very pushy. Maybe it's also that I'm also pretty protective of my own space, both physical and mental, and so I sympathised with Jack's reactions which, again, were nothing more than liking having his own space and not inviting Emma to move in after a very short period. He was never consciously cruel to her, if she felt rejected it was all her doing, and she should have actually sat down and had a chat with him, rather than going off in a huff.
Oh, well, I've got my copy of Savor the Moment ready to start now, and I really hope it's better.
MY GRADE: The romance is a C, but the rest was good, so a B-, for the book as a whole.