The Bridal Quartet
by Nora Roberts
Berkeley Publishing 2009 - 2010
Now I don't normally read Nora Roberts, but every now and then I feel like reading a romance without it being a formulaic Harlequin romance. So I like reading Nora Roberts. I especially like reading her trilogies and series. They always have some continuity to them. Up until now, the only series of Nora Roberts I have read are the Sign of Seven series and The Key series.
Two days ago I picked up 3 out of 4 books in the Bridal Quartet series from my local library. The 4th book is on reserve at the library. But I have read enough and know enough about the characters to know who matches up with whom - especially since all the characters (both men and women) are part of all the stories.
In Greenwich Connecticut there is a business called VOWS - an event management company specialising in weddings. There are 4 women in this business - all business partners. Each women has their own skills and expertise that they bring to the business. VOWS offers a full service wedding including the venue, the reception and the dancing - all in one place.
Parker Brown is the Administrator. She runs the administrative side, manages all the minutae and smoothes the ruffled feathers of the clients.She arranges the limo, books the marriage celebrant, does the books, and times everything right down to the minute. She has brown hair.
Mackenzie Elliot is the Photographer. She takes all the photos, and makes up the wedding album after the wedding is over. She has red hair and green eyes.
Emma Grant is the Florist. She does all the flower arrangements, the bouquets and managers all other floral related requests - right down to the exact colours. She has dark hair.
Laurel MacBane is the Chef. She is a fully qualified, Parisian trained Pastry Chef. She makes the wedding cakes and all the other desserts, the hors d'ouevres, the finger foods, the buffet meals and whatever else the client wants in the way of food. She has blonde hair.
Each books covers 3 months - and altogether they cover a full 12 months - from January to December in one calendar year. In that 12 months, each of the 4 girls finds their soulmate and becomes engaged. Each book is about one girl and their relationship
The books are - in order...
Vision in White - Mackenzie Elliot - January to March - The Photographer with the Teacher.
These girls are family - they have been best friends since they were in grade school. They have been playing pretend weddings since they were 8 years old. Mackenzie got into photography after her father gave her a camera when she was 8 and she took a picture of her 3 friends playing at weddings and a blue butterfly landed on the bouquet just as the shutter was pressed. That was the epiphany for Mac.
Mac doesn't believe in marriage on a personal level. Her parents divorced when she was 4 and they have both been married several times since. Her mother (Linda) was raised to be the centre of her universe and cannot seem to cope without a man in her life. When she doesn't have a man she expects Mackenzie to look after her and pay her some attention, and pay all her bills as well - just like a parent would. Linda has a different man on her arm ever week. She (Linda) gets very upset when a man tell her she is being selfish and thinking only of herself and not of anyone else. Everytime a man walks away from Linda, she has a breakdown and expects Mackenzie to pay attention to her. Definitely some emotional abuse.
When Mackenzie meets Carter MacGuire, they click. Well actually he clicks with her because he has had a crush on her since high school and that was more than 10 years earlier. Slowly Mackenzie learns to say NO to Linda, to trust in Carter and to accept that that fluttering feeling in her heart is true love. she also learns that she can trust his love for her to be real and that it wont easily fade away.
Bed of Roses - Emmaline Grant - April to June - The Florist with the Architect
Jack's parents divorced when he was a child. Like all children, he desperately wanted his parents to get back together again. Whenever he was with his dad, he hated the fact that his dad's girlfriends would literally leave all their personal belongings all over his fathers house as if to claim ownership. He hated seeing women's makeup and feminine hygiene products in the bathroom, women's underwear in the laundry and women's clothes on his fathers bed.
As a result, when he grew up, he never invited any female back to his own apartment. He always took them out or went back to their place after the romantic dinner or movie, or show, no matter if his place was closer or not.
Emmaline has had a crush on Jack for many years (he was a close friend of Del Brown's - they had met at Yale University), and so Jack was always part of the VOWS "family". As he and Emma began to get closer and closer, he resisted taking Emma back to his apartment. He always preferred to come to Emma's house on the Brown estate (where VOWS was located) and stay the night there. Whenever he left his jacket behind, he would always insist on coming back to collect it.
One night he took Emma for a romantic weekend to New York, They stayed at the Waldorf Hotel, took in a show on Broadway and had a romantic dinner. When Emma was called back to Greenwich for a VOWS emergency, she promised to make things up to Jack for ruining the weekend.
So a day or two later, Emma gathered some planters, some food, and drink, borrowed a spare key from a neighbour (since Jack had not yet given her a spare key - a sign of his commitment phobic problem) and settled into Jack's kitchen with the intention of cooking up a fancy meal for Jack to say thank you for the lovely New York trip.
When Jack arrived home from work that evening, he was hot, tired, smelly and he wanted a shower. He also hated the fact that she had invaded his space without his permission. The breaking point was when Jack picked up the spare keys (that Emma had borrowed) and put them in his pocket. Emma interpreted this action to mean that she would never get a key so she would never be welcome in his apartment.
Emma was in pain and she erupted She told him that she was in love with him, and that she wanted to more from him - she wanted marriage, kids, a house with a picket fence - the whole nine yards. But he clearly did not trust her and he did not want to commit himself to her so she was going to leave.Emma stormed out telling him to stay away from her. She needed to go home and have some space and forget about him as he clearly did not trust her.
Jack went to see Del. Jack explained what happened - of how he came home to find Emma in his kitchen, and how he had a headache and all he wanted was a shower.
Del - I didn't know you gave her a key. Major Step for you
Jack - I didn't. I hadn't. She got it from Michelle (the neighbour)
Del - Uh-Oh. Infiltrated your frontlines, did she?
Jack - Is that how I am? Come on!
Del - That's exactly how you are with women.
Jack - And that makes me a monster. a psycho?
Del - No. A little phobic maybe.
Now he knows what it is like when she is not part of his life. The last time he had this feeling of devastation at his world turning upside down was when his parents had sat him down to say they were getting a divorce.
It took her 10 days to get to the point where she would even talk to
Jack. In the meantime, Jack was not allowed to speak to her, call her,
email her or even ask about her.
When she finally agreed to speak to him, he crawled back. Emma apologised for the bad way in which she had behaved and and now she just wants to be friends.
Jack - Is that what you want, Emma.
Emma - Yes it's what I want.
Jack - OK then, I guess we talk about what I want now.
Jack drags Emma out into the gardens where he explains why he refused to allow her into his heart, but now that he has experienced life without her in it, his life was no longer worth living without her and he wanted her in his life forever. He finally told her that he loved her, (something he had been very careful not to say before).
He asked her to marry him and then he began dancing with her - doing a waltz in the garden in the moonlight.
One of Emma's childhood dreams had been for her lover to propose to her in the garden while dancing a waltz. Jack fulfilled that dream, so of course she said yes.
Savor the Moment - Laurel McBane - July to September - The Chef with the Lawye.
Laurel McBane's family went from being well-off to poor after her father had trouble with the IRS. Laurel had to struggle to save to attend a good culinary school, and it was only with the help of the Brown Family - as in The Browns of Connecticut - was she able to manage it. Like the others Laurel played pretend weddings with her friends as a child,
Laurel had always had a crush on Delaney Brown - one of the Browns of Connecticut. Del was from a rather wealthy family. He grew up to become a lawyer. He has a younger sister - named Parker Brown - also one of the Browns of Connecticut. Parker is one of Laurel's best friends from childhood. It was Parker's idea to start up the wedding planning business. Delaney is the business lawyer and also personal lawyer for each of the 4 women. So Laurel has known him for most of her life.
In the months from June to September the feelings between Delaney and Laurel become obvious and they eventually have to admit their feelings to themselves and to each other. But not before Laurel has a bust up with Del about him paying for her share of the groceries. He wants to reimburse her. Laurel thinks it means she's being paid just to be the hired help. Once they get the matter of finances out of the way, they can finally admit to each other how they feel.
Happy Ever After - Parker Brown - October to December - The Administrator with the Mechanic.
When Parker Brown has a near miss on the road in rainy weather and blows out 2 tires of her car, she calls the business mechanic to come and tow her car. When Malcolm Kavanaugh rides to the rescue on his motorcycle, Parker refuses to get on. But she has 2 choices - ride the motorbike to get to her meeting on time, or wait for the tow truck to take her home and miss the meeting altogether.
So Parker changes her life when she accepts a ride on the back of a motorcycle with Malcolm Kavanaugh. Their chemistry upsets Parker. She doesnt have time to fall in love and he is intrigued her her. He wants to know how she works so he shows up at the VOWS business whenever he can to help out - especially when there is a wedding involved. Slowly Malcolm starts courting her.
Unknown to Parker, both she and Malcolm have similar histories. Parker and Delany's parents were killed in a huge crash and died. Malcolm was also involved in a crash (a movie stunt that went badly wrong) and while he survived, he spent many months in hospital recovering and undergoing rehabilitation.
On the night when things come to a head, 3 teenagers have been killed in a tragic multiple car crash to which Malcolm had been called out to tow the wrecks away. That had given him a flashback to his own accident and he later refused to tell Parker what was wrong. He had the typical male attitude of holding everything in, while Parker was a typical woman - it feels better to talk about it. She confronts him at his business and has it out with him. Finally they both really talk.
Malcolm finally tells Parker about some of his abusive relatives and his childhood when he was abused. He would rather not talk about it, but she needs to know, in order to know him, because that abuse has made him the way he is. Oh, Malcolm is not abusive. But he huirts easily - even if he doesnt not want to admit it - and he shuts down easily too. Parker needs to know why so she can understand how he deals with emotion.
In making up, Malcolm buys Parker a "make-up" gift. Most men in this situation would buy either flowers or lingerie. Malcolm knows his Parker and instead, he bought her a new pair of shoes.
In December Mac and Carter finally get married - since they were the first to get engaged. At their wedding, Malcolm finally proposes to Parker.
"We'll tell them tomorrow, so we don't take any shine off." Malcolm says after Parker accepts.
Yes, Malcolm really does know how Parker works now.
Emma and Jack are set to get married the following April, Laurel and Delaney the following June. No date is set for Parker and Malcolm yet, but then they have only just gotten engaged.