Can an artist who's afraid of passion find his muse in a gun-shy wedding planner? Will a town built around romance inspire them to push through their boundaries?
Pallas Saunders owns a business throwing elaborate theme weddings, but her ambition has never allowed much time for romance of her own—especially since Weddings in a Box is struggling. Artist Nick Mitchell is biding his time until he leaves California for Dubai to start working on a two-year commission. It's not the best time for either of them to start a relationship, but they find themselves attracted to each other. Standing in the way is also the fact that Pallas and Nick both have deeply damaged relationships with their families. Nick's father is a famous artist whose affair led Nick's mother to raise another woman's child as her own. As a result of his parents’ deception (and having borne witness to his mother's one-sided devotion to his dad), Nick believes that while romance, companionship, and sex are fine, passion is dangerous. His dalliance with Pallas is safe because it has an expiration date. Pallas, on the other hand, hasn't pursued romance because she's been committed first to school and then to her career. She's also had to dodge her mother's expectation that she'll come to work at the family's bank. Aside from her career path, she's always needed to earn her mother's love, and that baggage seems to carry over to potential suitors. There's a lot to like about this first book in Mallery's new series, Happily Inc., about a California desert town that's known as a wedding destination. The romance is sweet and hot, the writing is quick and easy, and Mallery (A Million Little Things, 2017, etc.) begins to lay the foundation for her series, building the stories of Nick's brothers and the women in Pallas' group of friends. In fact, the starring relationship in the book is really between Pallas and her girlfriends.
A great choice for a weekend read.