Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Happy Ever After (Bridal Quartet, Book #4) by Nora Roberts

As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride's vision. She just can't see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcolm Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker is no exception. Both know that moving from minor flirtation to major hook-up is a serious step. Parker's business risks have always paid off, but now she'll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart...
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts is the last of her Bridal Quartet contemporary series, and as the name suggests, the book wraps up everything neatly for the four friends by providing a happy ending for Parker Brown.

Parker is the brains behind Vows, the successful wedding planning business that she runs out of the Brown Estate with her three childhood friends, Mac, Emma and Laurel. In Happy Ever After, the story begins by giving the reader a retrospective of how Vows was conceived by Parker after her parents were killed in a tragic automobile accident. Throughout, the protective and parental roles played by Mrs. Grady and brother Del are highlighted, as well as the supportive and familial roles played by Parker's three childhood friends.

Parker is already attracted to Malcolm Kavanaugh, her brother's friend and mechanic to the whole gang. He is a self-made man with a bad-boy aura and reputation, and not her usual "type." She likes easily controlled and sophisticated businessmen, and there's nothing of the easily controlled gentleman about Malcolm. Malcolm is obviously attracted to Parker and not intimidated by her attempts to reject him. He knows there's passion under all that ice.

Happy Ever After is a nice, light romance. Not surprisingly, Parker is a perfectionist who finds the perfect job and performs it to perfection. She is loyal, loving and here's the one surprise, much softer than I expected. Parker also turns out to be a private person -- an interesting turn of events when you take into consideration how much she likes to interfere in her friends' lives. But other than that, what new information did we really learn about Parker, other than what we already knew? Not much. The same can be said for Malcolm. He is a good self-made man who had a rough childhood. He is powerfully attracted to Parker and has a tough time opening up about his past, but although some details are provided, again, we knew most of this information about him already from reading the previous books. There are no real surprises there about him.

There's very little conflict to this story, if any. Happy Ever After is a nice, light, superficial romance where the last of these four friends, Parker, finds her "happy ever after," and in the process the book serves as the perfect happy ever after for all four friends and their partners in their beautiful, perfect world - the perfect wrap-up to the Quartet. (Note how many times I use the word "perfect). There's no in-depth characterization or character growth to be found either. Although this book, and series as a whole, works quite well as a contemporary fantasy fairy tale.

This is Nora Roberts and because she is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers, I have certain expectations that were not necessarily met with this series. However, that's not to say that the details are not there, they are. All the characters are likable and there are some amusing moments found throughout. All the bases are covered and there are no holes or hanging threads left open; and Vows, as a wedding planning business, is described in minute detail -- although again, those details overshadow the romance. The friendship between the four friends is wrapped up nicely. And yes... Happy Ever After is just that, the "happily ever after" book to the Bridal Quartet series.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bridal Quartet, Book 4
Released: November 2, 2010
Grade: C

Complete Bridal Quartet Series:
Vision in White, Book 1
Bed of Roses, Book 2
Savor the Moment, Book 3
Happy Ever After, Book 4

Visit Nora Roberts here.

12 comments:

  1. Great review, Hilcia. I agree with you that there's no in-depth characterization for Parker and Malcolm. I expected more from Parker's story but was disappointed that it didn't wow me. Ah well.

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  2. I'd probably grade this a little higher just because I liked the "fantasy fairy tale" (great description, BTW!). But I agree that the lack of character development or conflict made this one less satisfying.

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  3. I graded it the same. There was no conflict and I was sick of all the wedding detail stuff. Also, I though Mal would have shaken up Parker's world a bit more, he kinda just ruffled the edges a bit. Ah well. It was an ok wrap up for the quartet.

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  4. *nodS* You're right, there is very little conflict in this book. I sort of like it because of it. I have only read one book by NR outside this series so I can't compare it to the others.

    Still I agree with your review 100%, I just gave it a higher rating because of the Wedding Porn factor. :D I do like my wedding porn. *grins*

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  5. (Note how many times I use the word "perfect".

    That's me out then. I'm a perfectionist, but I know how imperfect I am, and a book in which everyone is perfect and ends up perfectly happy would have me running to the nearest bridge! Plus, I'm currently reading Fantasy In Death and drowning in perfect Roarke. And OMG he's going to be involved in the case. Am seriously considering making this my last In Death book...

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  6. Hi!
    I agree with you, the whole series was too perfect.
    Especially the second book, I think that was too much even for the already over the top perfectionism.

    :)
    Sonia

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  7. Tabitha, yeah... sigh. No wow factor there. :(

    Phyl, I liked the "fantasy fairy tale" (great description, BTW!).
    I'm glad you liked that, lol! I figured many would love the fairy tale factor, these are good for a good fantasy. I'm glad you enjoyed that aspect of it. :)

    Ames, I also expected more from Mal and more of a conflict because of their differences. But yes, it was one big HEA story for the Quartet.

    AnimeGirl! LOL, Wedding Porn!! I love that. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. ;P

    Orannia, I usually don't mind a bit of perfection if it's part of a character. But, it's both the characters and the plot, it bugs. Not one disaster in four books of weddings -- all solved to perfection? Okay!

    S. Hi! Yes... the first book had tons of potential, even with the wedding details overload. But... but... balance was missing throughout the series and in the end, for me personally, it didn't deliver.

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  8. I hate to admit it, but you're spot on with this book and the whole series, Hils. While I'm reading them, I'm having such a good time, feeling the love and strong bonds between the women, smiling through the romance... and the endings make me happy. But later when I look back at it all... it's a tad unfulfilling.

    All those calories on sugar and fluff and not enough fiber. More fiber is so much more satisfying. Okay, who else is dieting and knows exactly what I'm talking about?!!? sheesh.

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  9. I liked this one, and the series, a lot more than you but I was more interested in the women, with the romance coming in second.

    There was a lot of perfection in these stories. The 4 women having the perfect careers & the perfect place to host weddings. And they all seem to have great relationships with each other. I guess I just liked it for what it was. Plus, I love sweets! LOL

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  10. Nice review, Hils :) At first, when I saw your grade, I was like ouch... but thinking more about it, I'll probably grade it the same :) I liked it, but I'm not sure it's one that I will go and re-read.

    One thing though that I'd like to mention is that I don't think Parker was looking for a man she could easily controlled... I don't think she could be satisfied with such a man, but more like a man that has more in common with her :)

    I don't mind the fact that there was no conflict... especially that there was no conflict that went throughout the series. However, there wasn't much development either and I think both combined just made the book too breezy.

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  11. This one was my least favorite of the whole series. I would have liked to have seen more of the behind the scenes between Parker and Malcolm rather than behind the scenes of the wedding. It almost felt like the romance itself was missing.

    Great review though. :)

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  12. All those calories on sugar and fluff and not enough fiber.
    Christine, you're too funny. :) These are great HEA books, I'm loving all these great descriptions.

    Leslie, lol with the sweets! I'm glad you loved these books. NR usually weaves wonderful friendships & families into her romances. It's one of the things I always loved about her books. :)

    Nath, agreed about Parker. :) Yes... it was the combination of all those things (lack of characterization, lack of conflict, plus the short-changed romance), that made this an "ok" read for me. Although, as I said above, & Christine says in her comment, there were good, happy moments to it.

    Tracy, Malcolm was such a great character throughout the other books & Parker so interesting, I did expect more for this couple's romance. By the end, all I could think was... "enough with the weddings already, let us get to know these people and have more of the romance, please!"

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