Kristin Hardy – “Always A Bridesmaid”

17 Aug

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Silhouette Special Edition, 2007

Why this book: I read this last year and can’t remember.

The back blurb:
“Shy and inexperienced, Jillian Logan had walled herself off from everything – especially men. But when she was paired with usher Gil Reynolds at a wedding, there was no mistaking the unexpected sparks that melted even Jillian’s protective reserve.
Brash and handsome, Gil was used to getting whatever he wanted. And the stunning social worker represented a challenge that he couldn’t resist. But Jillian was shocked to learn Gil’s secret: He was involved in a scandal that had torn her beloved Family apart. Gil wanted to make amends, but could Jillian truly forgive and forget – and admit that she was falling in love?”

[I wrote this last year; I found the draft when I deleted a bunch of old drafts some time ago, so here it is.]

I took a risk with ordering Always A Bridesmaid by Kristin Hardy because
– I never read her before
– I didn’t look for reviews for this novel (or others by Hardy)
– it was not a recommendation

So I’m really glad to say it worked out. I enjoyed reading it and, apart from two things about the characterization that bothered me, I think it’s a good novel.

The first thing is Jillian’s shyness. It’s stated right on the back blurb. Such stories often have two problems, IMO:
1. the “shy” heroine doesn’t behave like someone I would call “shy”
2. it’s a premise that often leads to “first time sexual chemistry = true love”

Always A Bridesmaid features both problems. Jillian is described as a “shy” person. At the age of 33, she’s a virgin (shy and virgin seem to go hand in hand in these stories), has practically zero experience with men, and the first time Gil, the hero, kisses her is the first time the fireworks start in her life:

Jillian had been kissed before. She knew what it was like to have a man’s mouth on hers. It had never been anything like this. It had never set her entire body humming with pleasure. It had never made her forget everything around her, exist only for the mindless wonder of mouth on mouth. (p. 48)

Also, Jillian doesn’t act shy. When Jillian first meets Gil she’s flirty as hell. They talk and tease and she has comebacks .. well, like someone who’s not shy and has experience flirting. And that she drunk some alcohol before she met him doesn’t really explain her skill in flirting, IMO.

Anyway, this sounds pretty ranty for something that didn’t bother me much in this story (it’s more a general thing, saying someone has that and that characteristic and when you look for it, the characters behave in such a way that you just can’t see it). There is also another reason why Jillian was rather inexperienced with men which is “discovered” later in the story that worked better as an explanation than the shy thing, IMO, so really, not so ranty about the wonky characterization here.

The second thing I didn’t like that much is really a small thing and one sentence would have taken care of it. Small as it is, it’s the one thing that really made me “WTF?” You see, the first time Jillian and Gil have sex together, there’s no mention of a condom. While I appreciate it when it’s mentioned in contemporaries, I normally don’t go “WTF?” when it’s not. But Jillian is a social worker at the “Children Connection’s fertility and Adoption Clinic” and deals, among other things, daily with unwanted pregnancies. She knows. For her, more so than for others, it is a thing of character(ization) so I thought “no way.”

So, after all this, I’m not sure I’m convincing when I say that I really liked this novel. But I did. As ranty as I probably sounded so far, these things didn’t have much of an impact on my enjoyment. I was much too captivated by Hardy’s getting the little things right when two people fall in love. The awareness of the other, the giddiness and exhilaration. It didn’t hurt that I thought the set-up of the outer conflict – Gil reporting on Jillian’s family – rather good. They have conflicting goals and through all this, they recognize that there is something between them. How can they keep it and still be true to themselves? Also, it’s a story where the (obligatory) marriage at the end really fit story wise. It made the story come full circle.

So, I’m glad I took a chance on this novel.

[Since then, I read three other novels by Hardy and liked them all. Hardy is now one of my favourite authors.]

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 + / 5


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