"The Accidental Bride" by Denise Hunter
Shay Brandenberger has built her entire life on the shifting sands of what others think. Constantly seeking the approval of others, she has struggled through a rocky childhood, a failed marriage and single parenthood. Now it looks like she’s losing the ranch that has been in her family for three generations, a surefire way to mark her as a failure in the eyes of the community. When Travis McCoy, the high school sweetheart who very publicly broke her heart fifteen years before, returns to Moose Creek, she is less than pleased. Not only does his re-appearance dredge up a deluge of painful memories, it also reminds everyone in town that it was he who left her, not the other way around. To make matters worse, Shay and Travis are unwittingly paired to play bride and groom in the annual Founder’s Day wedding re-enactment where, much to her chagrin, she discovers he still has the power to take her breath away.
After years of successfully following the rodeo circuit, Travis’s one regret in life is having hurt Shay so badly. He’s determined to make the past up to her, so when, through a series of flukes, the marriage ceremony is “accidentally” made official, he seizes the opportunity to make things right. But can Shay let go of her pride and stop worrying about what others think long enough to let him? Or will she remain convinced their accidental marriage is just one more mark against her in the eyes of her neighbors?
Skillfully creating a love story that beautifully reflects God’s grace, Hunter uses the pages of The Accidental Bride (the second release in the Big Sky Series) to bring to light preoccupation with caring what others think. Using complex characters, an enticing backdrop and an almost palpable range of emotion and conflict, Hunter draws her readers to a new awareness of how much more simple life becomes when we aim to please God instead of man.
After being persuaded to be the bride at her town's Founder's Day celebrations, Shay is shocked to see that the "groom" waiting at the top of the aisle is non other than Travis, her first love, and the man that left her on the courthouse steps 14 years earlier to pursue his rodeo dreams. Using the premise of a couple becoming accidentally married in reality when all they were doing was a reenactment of a historical event, the author explores topics such as forgiveness, trust and worrying about what others think. It is a romance story so there is a very strong romantic element. I enjoyed the storyline of Travis trying win back Shay's heart. In turn, I thought the story of Shay's feelings and struggle in believing and trusting Travis, even with his most honorable intentions, after being abandoned both by him and her husband in her past was believable and well written. Throw in her childhood poverty, her desperation at losing her ranch and her desire to do the best by her young daughter and I could certainly see where she was coming from. Because it is a romance novel, there are parts where the two run into situations where they're attraction to each other takes over. While the feelings are described, a few of which while coming close, did not cross my personal lines, but do get intense and did make me consider whether I would want my teenager to read. And because I am reviewing with my personal Christian convictions, there is an element regarding that within the story that made me a bit uncomfortable. ( I don't know how else to say it without telling a part of the story). All in all, it was a good weekend read for those who enjoy a romance novel that has some exploration of issues we all go through thrown in.
Thanks to B&B Media Group for providing a copy for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are my own.
To purchase "An Accidental Bride" you can go here and here. (You can also read the first chapter in that second link).