The Goodbye Bride (Denise Hunter) – Review

3 stars

 

Publisher’s Description
Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

Zac was just beginning to get his life back on track after Lucy left him with no explanation. And now she’s back—vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. Has he been given a second chance with the only woman who stirs his passion and haunts his dreams?

Lucy knows she must unlock those missing months and discover why she threw everything away. And Zac knows that if he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life—but if Lucy’s memory returns, his would-be bride might say goodbye forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What do you think they meant, Lucy?”  His deep voice cut straight through her.  She met his silvery eyes and gloried in the tenderness she saw there.  “About the Runaway Bride thing?”
She wrenched her eyes away, shifting under this steady gaze.  He had a way of making her feel like he could see right through her.  Right down to the center of her heart.  Somehow he’d loved her anyway.
“How would I know?”
“Right.”  He shifted away, driving his hands into his pockets.  His eyes flittered around the sterile apartment, then came back to rest on her.  “You’re all settled then.  I should get going.”
Her heart drummed against her ribs as he headed toward the door.  Adrenaline emptied into her system, making her pulse race and her limbs tremble.
“Can’t I get you something to drink?”
“It’s late.  I have a long drive.”
“Something for the road then?  Some iced tea?”  Surely she had iced tea.
“No thanks.”
She followed him, fighting the insane urge to grab his shirt and drag him back.  Or race ahead and throw herself in front of the door.
But he didn’t want her.  Didn’t love her anymore.  He was eager to get back to his Lucyless Summer Harbor life.  And what did she have?  An unfamiliar apartment in a foreign city, a fiancé she didn’t remember, and oh yes, a gaggle of reporters on her front stoop.  Panic rose in her throat, adding to the lump of emotion already knotting there.
Zac opened the door and turned, looking down at her with his cool, steely eyes.
Her feelings must’ve been written all over her face, because his eyes softened the smallest bit.  “You’ll be fine.  You know where you work, and you have your car and your money, and your . . . fiancé.”
I don’t love him.  I love you.
“I left his number on the table.  You should call him.  He’ll help you get all this straightened out.”
His words didn’t even register.  She stared at him, mentally begging him to stay.  Why was everyone always leaving her?  What was wrong with her?
Panic bubbled up, swelling inside.  Her heart thrashed in her ears.  Do not beg, Lucy Lovett.  Do not.
The softness was gone from his eyes.  Now they were just cold, hard pewter.  His jaw was set in a stubborn line, his lips pressed together.  As much as she might want to curl up in his arms one last time, it would be like hugging a cold marble statue  And she didn’t think she could take one more rejection.
“Be sure and lock up behind me,” he said in a tight voice.  “Take care, Lucy.”
Her lip trembled, and she caught it between her teeth and gave a little nod.  It was all she could do.
And then he was gone, the door falling shut in front of her as so many others had before.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review
Can you imagine how bewildering it would be to find yourself lying on the floor of a public restroom, in a wedding dress, with no recollection of how you got there?  And then imagine that you contact your groom – who must be frantic, right? – only to have him tell you that you left him seven months ago?  And you’re not exactly on his Christmas card list anymore…

Lucy and Zac were due to get married seven months prior to the beginning of this story, but just weeks before the wedding was due to take place, Zac, who was feeling under pressure at work, took off to get away from it all for a few days.  When he got back, Lucy was gone and, despite his best efforts, he was unable to locate her; nor did she ever contact him.  The two big questions are:  What caused her to leave in the first place? And will it happen all over again if she remembers?  Then there is also the little matter of another groom out there somewhere, wondering what’s happened to his bride…

It’s an interesting premise for a romance, and probably the main reason I picked up this novel.  It starts off right in the action, with Lucy lying on the floor trying to remember what’s happened and for a while I was quite enjoying the story’s development.  Things dropped off a little in the middle, which was mainly a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of the emotions between Lucy and Zac, and then Lucy began to remember.  We began getting some answers, and suddenly I was a feeling a little… underwhelmed.

Really, the whole thing would probably have been avoided if Zac and Lucy had been communicating on the kind of level you would expect for a couple on the verge of marriage.  I was hoping for something a little more compelling.  It might have worked for me if there had been a convincing reason for Lucy to have kept her past from Zac, but I couldn’t help thinking:  If she loved him enough to marry him, why didn’t she love him enough to share her story with him?  Alternatively, if her story was that difficult to share, wouldn’t it have shaped her on a broader level than simply reacting to a particular circumstance out of the blue?

And if the scenario with Zac was difficult to swallow, then the scenario with groom #2 was impossible.

In my limited experience of Denise Hunter’s writing, she seems to favour that style of romance writing that borders on being melodramatic, emphasising and inflating the emotional and romantic descriptions (and in this case, throwing in a rather clichéd ‘other woman’ for Zac).  I can live with a certain amount of that, but in this case it felt like the characters and plot were being manipulated to artificially enhance the angst, and it became a little too much for me.

The other thing which niggled me occasionally was Zac’s use (infrequently) of words like ‘stinking’ and ‘freaking’ as expletives.  It wasn’t so much the words themselves as the attitude behind them that I found a bit jarring.  There were also a few uses of ‘Thank God’ or ‘Lord’ that were a little too casual for my liking.  Some people may feel comfortable using these expressions and meaning them in a literal sense – a sort of one- or two-word prayer – but it came across as a little flippant in the novel.

Obviously some of these responses are very personal and won’t necessarily align with other readers’.  If none of the above is going to bother you, then it’s quite likely you will enjoy the read.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel through BookLook Bloggers in return for my honest review.

Buy from:           Amazon.com                               Amazon.com.au

Release date:  8 March 2016
Pages:  336
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson Publishers
Author’s website:  http://www.denisehunterbooks.com/

Previous book in series:

Coming in September 2016

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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