Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

Title: The Wedding Shop
Author: Rachel Hauck
Genre/Age: Women's Fiction
Series: Heart's Bend Novels (Book Two)
Publisher: Zondervan Fiction
Format: ebook via NetGalley
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisTwo women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the 1930s, and Cora is taking the reins at her family’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. Brides come from far away to be doted on by Cora and her family while they find the perfect wedding dress. Meanwhile, Cora has found her true love, Rufus, a riverboat captain. Cora counts the days until his return from the river, and she continues to wait for him as days turn into months and months turn into years. When he finally returns, she receives the shock of a lifetime: he is married to another. Nursing her heartbreak, she must find a way to continue pouring her heart into the hopes and dreams of the brides who visit her shop, all while wondering if she will ever find true love or if it has passed her by.

In present day, Haley has finished her time as a soldier, and suffering from PTSD, wants nothing to do with the heartbreak of this world. She sets off for Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, and in order to honor the memory of a fallen friend, she takes on the task of reopening an abandoned and long-forgotten wedding shop. Perhaps through helping others, she can forget the pain and disappointment in her own life.

Haley isn’t looking for love, but when her friend’s former fianc√© becomes involved in the shop’s renovations, they both find that healing and restoration can perhaps happen in their lives too.

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for honest review.** 

Stunned. That's how I feel after finishing this book.

When I read the description of this one, I assumed it was a romance, only to later realize this is a women's fiction title. I started to become worried because I know what that can mean. Romance novels have happy endings. With fiction, you never really know how it will go.

The verdict? I absolutely loved this book! I won't spill what sort of ending this has because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. But I can honestly say that this story made my poor heart stop more than once. At least a half dozen times. This was two stories running simultaneously and each story had its ups and downs so it was twice as emotionally jarring for me, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And I cried. Actual tears. Sad tears, believe it or not. I don't cry sad tears. Happy tears? Sure. I am the sap crying at weddings. But the ending of Titanic? Nope, not a drop from me. I just have better control over it, I guess. Well, usually. And listening to Lana Del Rey's hauntingly beautiful voice during the cry-fest only made things worse.

Same location, different points in time. That's essentially what this story boils down to. Two women, both trying to discover themselves and seeking refuge in the wedding shop to do it. One works tirelessly to keep the shop alive during an economic downturn, while also trying to unravel the knots in her heart. The other is desperate to reopen the shop, feeling spiritually drawn to the location and the man who can help her dream come true.

This story does have a moderately religious tone. No, it isn't scriptures in every chapter. But the characters do speak to God (occasionally) and each other about their faith, or struggles within during times of turmoil. And the theme of divine intervention is a common thread throughout the story. I had no qualms with this, but I realize some readers prefer to avoid it.

So much happens in this book that it's hard to really sum it up. There is deception, tragedy, joy, shock, surprise, healing. I thought the connection between the two women was a bit contrived, but everything else felt natural and flowed smoothly. I will definitely read this one again, if for no other reason than to get my fill of Cole and Birch. I just love strong, thoughtful, and determined men.

In closing...
Overall, there is very little (if anything) that I would change about this book. It was a joy to read, even though I might have wanted to chuck the computer across the room, at one point (remember the tears?). I hope this book gets adapted into film, someday. Five sensational suns!

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