Turning an upstate New York bed-and-breakfast into a destination-wedding spot is made even harder by a troublesome bride whose life may be in danger.
Young widow Bella Jordan is just getting the hang of running the Valley View Guesthouse in the little town of Lily Dale when her friend and neighbor Odelia suggests the two get into the wedding business. Odelia’s granddaughter has a friend who’s looking for an out-of-the-way place for her upcoming nuptials, and Lily Dale fits the bill. Never mind that Lily Dale is also a spiritualist hub, with many residents claiming to have a connection to the psychic world. The bride, Johneen Maynard, is more focused on the flowers than the town’s history. Her fiance, Parker Langley, is marginally more personable, though when the two descend on Lily Dale, they threaten to overwhelm the normally calm Bella and her young son, Max. Having supplied the idea, Odelia leaves Bella on her own when it comes to the execution. Well, perhaps not completely on her own: she has the help of local veterinarian Drew Bailey. Although Drew, with whom Bella is only recently on a first-name basis, is helpful when it comes to Bella’s cat, Chance, and her many kittens, Bella isn’t sure that he can do much to alleviate wedding stress. And although Odelia means to help, the only concrete step she takes is to antagonize the bride when she delivers a message from the spirit world that Johneen may be in danger. Matters are only made worse with a surprise visit from Bella’s mother-in- law, who’s determined to drag Bella and Max off to Chicago.
By playing down Lily Dale’s residents, Staub misses an opportunity to flesh out more of Bella’s everyday life (Nine Lives, 2015). But the introduction of more ongoing characters is a rousing success.