Desert Isle Keeper
The Secret Bridesmaid
The Secret Bridesmaid is a delightful romantic jaunt through the life of an enterprising young professional who takes on a huge project, and bites off a little more than she can chew.
Sophie Breeze has an unusual job, but it’s also a secret. Since managing her cousin’s wedding freak-out, Sophie has become a professional bridesmaid, harnessing her passion for weddings into a lucrative career, arranging details to keep brides from stressing out too much and keeping the peace between family members. Sophie isn’t a wedding planner; she is there to be unobtrusive but ever-present as the couple deals with the stress of such a big event. Not only is Sophie great at her job, she loves it. While incognito as a friend of the bride, Sophie gets to make weddings go off without a hitch, and be a part of celebrating love.
Even though she’s surrounded by wedded bliss, Sophie is a little caught off-guard when she receives an invitation to her ex’s wedding. Her boyfriend of eight years was only single for a few weeks before he started dating his now-fiancée, which makes Sophie feel incredibly insecure. It’s then that she receives the referral of a lifetime: a former client recommends Sophie’s services to the Marchioness of Meade. The Marchioness’ daughter, Lady Cordelia Swann, is engaged, and her nuptials promise to be the event of the century. The only problem? Cordelia doesn’t want Sophie’s help, and seems determined to do everything she possibly can to drive her away.
Despite Cordelia’s machinations, Sophie does her best work, only slightly distracted by Tom, Cordelia’s very hot, very off-limits brother. There are a million reasons she can’t get involved with him; topping the list is that he doesn’t know her real name, or her real job. Despite that, Tom seems to be showing interest, and Sophie is conflicted between her duty to her reluctant client and someone who seems to really see her.
This book is a really fun, engaging read, and while it certainly has romance, I personally would put it more in the women’s fiction column. The focus of the narrative is on Sophie’s emotional journey, and love is a part of that, but not the center. The real conflict in the story is based around Sophie’s self-worth, and her finding value in herself. Even though the romance is Sophie and Tom’s, the main relationship in the book seems like it’s between Sophie and Cordelia. Cordelia is a very interesting, complex character and she’s fun to read about. Their antagonism is interesting, but Cordelia’s vulnerability is even more poignant. One of the greatest strengths of the book is how well fleshed-out the characters are; even minor characters are distinct and have clear characterization. Another is the dialogue. The banter is top-notch, and the places where email and texts are incorporated work really well. These interstitials give the reader a great sense of time passing, as well as a clearer window into Sophie’s work, which is fascinating.
The only thing that bothered me is that the book is being marketed as a romance, but it really doesn’t feature that much of the main character and her love interest. It’s a great read, but the true focus of the story isn’t Sophie falling in love, it’s her job and interpersonal relationships.
The Secret Bridesmaid is a great novel about weird weddings, unlikely friendships, and love. I highly recommend it, with the caveat that the main romance is fairly low-key.