Book Review | “His One and Only Bride” (The Business of Weddings series, Book Six) by Tara Randel A series by #HarlequinHeartwarming

Posted Thursday, 25 January, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “His One and Only Bride” direct from the author Tara Randel in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was intrigued by this story-line:

I truly love wedding stories – when I caught sight of this title, I was instantly hooked – as I perused the synopsis this felt like the kind of story I needed right now. I was recovering from my virus (a three week affair, plus one week to recover my energy, focus and stamina!) when I first spied this blog tour – which is why unexpectedly I made a bit of a blunderment! This is a series in-progress! In fact, I originally thought this was the fifth book in the series but it turns out, it’s the *sixth!* and final story to anchour the ENTIRE Business of Weddings series together! Oy vie. As I mentioned in this tweet – sometimes a girl just needs to be #amreading!

Which was my way of overstating the obvious – I have missed being curled up inside stories these past four weeks with reckless abandon! I’ve only been able to dip my toes into a few novels, two suspenseful audiobooks and partially re-listened to a Cosy Mystery audiobook I’m finishing this week. I simply couldn’t focus on reading or dissecting what I was reading with any kind of regularity until after I recovered. Finding myself struck down by a migraine this past weekend (of the 20th) was not exactly the step ‘forward’ I was hoping to have this side of the virus! Mind you, I wasn’t even going to attempt to read too much Non-Fiction (despite my shelves leaning in this direction!) as those take a bit more attention as I like to read those titles whilst analysing them from a different perspective altogether! Expect more of those kinds of ruminations sprinkled throughout the coming month of February and well into Spring!

However, despite the lows of spending most of the first month of the New Year quite muddled in health woes – I did capture a happy spirit for a few lovely exchanges of convo and delightful discoveries on Twitter! I even hosted my first Romance + Women’s Fiction chat of the year: @SatBookChat which happily has started on good footing for bringing readers and writers together! (smiles) On the foot-heels of this good news, I am thankful I can start resuming my Romantic Reads – as I do love a wonderfully light Rom, a historically intriguing Romance, a mind-tingling Rom Suspense or a dramatic Women’s Fiction story to thread through my yearly reads!

It is true – I do have a keen preference for reading serial fiction in order of sequence, except for when I make a gaffe like this and recognise sometimes it’s okay to read them ‘out of order’! Laughs with mirth. Part of the reason I think I have trouble discerning which novel is in sequence is because these are not always exclusively marketed by their sequencing – meaning, oft-times I do try to source their origins and numerical sequencing but still find myself falling a bit short of knowing ‘which came first’ and ‘which should I read next’! I wonder if there is a repository for all Harlequin (and Mills & Boon) titles in a database which catalogues their serial fiction?

Ironically or not, I also notice a bit of a pattern here – for the Harlequin and Mills & Boon novels I’ve been reading of late, I’ve been reading them ALL out of sequence! *le sigh* Apparently I keep ‘leaping’ before I double-check which book is in which order of their individual series! The only happy bit, of course, is being able to re-find these lovelies through my local library, inter-library loan and used book shoppes – as not all of these are kept in print past their initial print runs! More adventure for the bookish girl who loves a ready challenge in gathering books in sequence! Ha!

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Book Review | “His One and Only Bride” (The Business of Weddings series, Book Six) by Tara Randel A series by #HarlequinHeartwarmingHis One and Only Bride
Subtitle: The Business of Weddings
by Tara Randel
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

He never thought he’d see her again!

After being reported missing, presumed dead, globe-hopping photojournalist Mitch Simmons never thought he’d see his estranged wife, Zoe, again. Yet here he is back in their coastal Florida town, where Zoe is mayor. Turns out she isn’t the only one he left behind.

Discovering he has a baby son awakens thrilling new emotions in Mitch. And there are his still-powerful feelings for the high school sweetheart he vowed to love and honor forever. Thankfully, they’ll have the chance to find the love that was always there…

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Foodie Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Suspense

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-335-63346-0

Also by this author: His Honor, Her Family, Trusting Her Heart, Always the One, (#25PagePreview) of Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart, Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart, Her Christmastime Family

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 1st January, 2017

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

The Business of Weddings Series:

Magnolia Bride | Book One | Synopsis

Orange Blossom Brides | Book Two | Synopsis

Honeysuckle Bride | Book Three | Synopsis

The Bridal Bouquet | Book Four | Synopsis

The Wedding March | Book Five | Synopsis

Read Excerpts via the author’s site

About Tara Randel

Tara Randel

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

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My review of his one and only bride:

You find yourself immediately reacting to Zoe’s plight – she’s a new Mum of a darling little boy (Leo, just a year old) and the grieving widow of a photo journalist who went missing on assignment overseas. She is similar to a war widow – from my readings of war dramas – who doesn’t get the full details of what ‘happened’ to her loved one but has to soldier on all the same on the home-front. She has to find the strength to re-piece her life back together, be brave in the face of grief to be a mother to her child and find a resilience of encouragement to realise life will even back out again; eventually.

Yet, Zoe isn’t feeling like a champion of strength right now – she feels muddled and worn down. Almost as if navigating how to repair her life after Mitch’s absence feels weighted without a compass to guide her in the direction she should take next. She’s realised she doesn’t want to spend her life without companionship but to dive back into a steady relationship – where her heart is all-in committed to a man and to their life together? This is the step she’s finding herself recoiling from taking whilst the ‘unknown’ void of her husband’s demise lingers round the edges of her conscience – how do you put the past behind you if you never know if it’s really past the point of return? You feel for her here – without confirmation someone has died finding solace after you’ve grieved their loss is a difficult transition. You’d almost need to find a way to settle the mystery of their disappearance before you could find a method of exit from your past life into the entrance of your future life. Either that or if an acceptable period of years had gone past, (seven I believe?) you’d simply have to carry-on as if they had been found (or recovered, more likely).

Yum, indeed! I admit, baked potatoes (heck, ALL potato dishes!) call to me, too! I could definitely see myself in Zoe’s shoes wandering over to grab the potato first because there is something soul-comforting about this kind of food! If your heart is hurting, you have to seek out what soothes the frays of your emotional resolve! Sometimes, food really can help you re-fuell your spirit to move through an event or a moment of your life – in this case, Zoe needed some self-centreing respite to get through the wedding reception for her best friend Lilli.

Still my foodie heart – they had ramekin mac and cheese, too? I have a palate watering for these foods – I almost could paint the picture of what I’d expect to find being available to eat outside of the lingering aromas of what Zoe was disclosing to us, too! I mean, if there was a 24hr buffet out there which served wicked lovely comfort foods like these, I would have booked myself straight to their buffet line irregardless of the time on the clock! Either that, or toyed with the idea of cooking all these beautiful dishes and forsaken the clock for the taste of them! Whichever way to Sunday you look at it, I became dearly hungry just reading this book!

Says the girl whose appetite has barely been visible for a month and whose heart is wicked happy being able to read again – food and books are two bookends of comfort and joy! And, yes, I did look for recipes of ‘zesty mac & cheese’ in the back of the novel! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have?

The fortitude of comfort food wouldn’t have been enough to stablise Zoe’s resolve for the shock of her life waiting for her at the end of a pier! Not even a mutual friend braced her for what she’d find there – the husband she ached to recover was not only alive, but he was surviving his injuries whilst making an ill-attempt at hiding them. The moment you realise her solemn hope of resolve had become a reality was also a gutting moment of clarity – of how your life can become altered and shifted into a new path without your approval. This was going to change a lot of her stability in the life she forged in his absence – notwithstanding the fact, did she even want him back?

Shifting points of view to Mitch, Randel takes you through the internal conflict of a man who is not himself whilst on the cusp of returning to a life he barely remembered. It is here, during their initial re-connections you can see the fractures of their marriage. They are two souls apart, they are no longer inter-connected, no longer the reason for why each of them can move through adversity and celebrate the joys life brings them. Rather than being the rock of support to help guide themselves through life, they’ve become a boulder of angst and anger; afflicting each other with the caustic residue of a marriage which never resolved it’s issues nor found a way to give voice to the problems which was leading each of them into a divorce. Those feelings haven’t shifted away just due to life-changing circumstances; if anything, they re-highlighted how Zoe and Mitch might not be the best partners for each other.

Randel does a good job at giving us the gravity of Mitch’s injuries – of the subtle truths his injuries are causing to become his new reality – from the migraines to the limited mobility of a man who as come back from an explosive near-death trauma. His injuries are multi-levelled – not only in the physical wounds which can be observed but the psychological ones he is attempting to hide from everyone but most importantly: himself. He doesn’t want to admit (he’s still in denial) to himself that sometimes you have to reconcile your ‘new’ reality against the old. You can’t change what caused your alteration but like any other medical crisis or emergency, you do have to find the will to accept the changes – or your never going to be able to move past them. He’s still feeling sorry for himself at this junction – whilst angered his supposed wife can simply find it easier to move on without him. You can sense the resentment in his mind – of how despite everything he’s done wrong, he can’t sort out why he has to have a second loss of realising his return isn’t entirely welcome by Zoe.

Zoe and Mitch are two strangers who are trying to patch together a truce out of the shambles of their past relationship falling apart long before his injuries even happened. They had forsaken each other somewhere along the way, which is hinted about and talked about as the worst part of what drew them into separate lives was their miscommunications and their inability to recognise how to support each other for the long haul. They had serious issues in their marriage, from Mitch’s inability to see how he never put his wife first (ahead of his career) to how they never fully resolved the losses of the children who were not able to live after conception. They struggled, truly, as a couple and as individuals – all of which started to come out of the woodwork as soon as Mitch returned home.

On the flipside of this, you are getting to see how the lose ends of the series are being knitted together and resolved; I recognised them even without reading all the synopsises of the past novels (as I wanted to go into reading this one blind) — Ms Randel did a wonderful job of inserting key back-history references about her characters throughout the context of the novel, giving us all a firm primer about where the Business of Weddings took you as you moved through the series as a whole. Likewise, one thing I truly enjoyed seeing develop ‘behind’ the main thread of narrative is the relationship between Zoe’s mother Samantha and the Chief. This was a second-chance romance opportunity for them both – but it was also marking a period of self-growth for the artistic Samantha who hadn’t fully grown into maturity until her latter years. This was shown through back-story sequences in regards to Zoe’s younger years as well as key dialogue sequences in the present. All of which happily correlated and ran concurrent to the main thread of interest for this sixth novel.

I quite literally moved through this novel with all the emotions stitched inside it – you even get a jolt of an alert realising there is a dearly dangerous ‘suspense’ element lingering just out of sight for you to gasp and hold a breath to see how it will resolve! Meanwhile, the solidarity of the friendships, the humbleness of the character’s journey towards redemption, forgiveness and a second chance at starting over their lives is what grounds you into the background. You want to rally behind these characters because of how earnestly their attempting to right the wrongs of the past whilst owning to the realities of their futures. This is what makes Contemporary Rom engaging as it feels more like a slice of our reality knitted into the foreground of a modern fictional setting.

On a personal note, I truly loved all the scenes with young Leo! He’s not just cute as a button as all babes are at his tender age, he seriously was given ample time to win over your heart! His scenes are some of the most authentic I’ve seen written in a novel – as his role in the story was secondary in some ways but primary in others! He was written in a manner of realistic composition for a child his age where you could literally see Leo as he was set within his scenes. I never felt his insertions were forced, they felt so very organic it was a testament to the author Ms Randel for using her real-life mumhood experiences as a wonderful palette of inspiration to etch into His One and Only Bride! I truly applauded how she dealt with this young character and made Leo a wonderful addition to the supporting cast!

Equality in Lit:

Ms Randel addresses key symptoms of TBI (traumatic brain injury), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the severity of injuries inter-related to a major incident where life can hang precariously in the balance. She guides you through the living conditions of coming ‘back’ to your regular life after awakening in a hospital and realising your body and mind are altered due to the extensive injuries you’ve incurred. She shines a positive light on how those who return home after major medical trauma (not limited to military veterans, as this is a story about a photojournalist) can put down new roots of growth by owning the path they have to walk in their recovery. She takes you through the motions – of the emotional trauma, the psychological baggage of fragmented memories, intense flashbacks, blackouts and/or trance ‘elsewhere’ moments where the mind is tricking you and the reality of having to find patience in recovery and rehab.

Whilst following the journey Mitch undertook in this story, she pulls together a critical glimpse into how anguishing it is to realise despite the changes to your body and your mind; (as it affects your well-being and outlook in life) you can find a road back to living. You simply have to be willing to put in the work towards re-strengthening your body first and foremost, whilst acknowledging the emotional and psychological scars which can take longer to find a way to heal from but what remains important is to lean on those who surround you with unconditional support. Friends, family, neighbours or community members who truly have your best interests at heart. All of this is showcased in the novel.

At the same time, Ms Randel openly talks about the upheavals of marriage and the disheartening realities of miscarriages. She puts in a lot of realistic punches to tell a story which is both convicting and captivating for it’s honesty.

On the Contemporary writing style of tara randel:

Dear hearts, you might have noticed – I’m the kind of reader who likes to feel emotionally attached to characters – so much so – if I find a wicked good writer (such as Ms Randel, FYI I will be back-reading this series post haste this year!) who can develop the emotional depths of a character’s soul such as we have here in Zoe – this is a writer I appreciate reading because they instinctively understand why readers love to feel as if they’ve lived a lifetime in a character’s shoes! It’s the same with motion pictures, tv movies and tv serials – we like to feel as if we’ve left our reality and our time-line and crossed forward into someone else’s journey if only for a short reprieve from our own. By attaching ourselves through the emotions of a character, it’s quite easily transformative to see how this character is moving in and out of their circumstances or finding the courage to seek out a new beginning or survive an adverse moment of their lives. Emotionally speaking – this is how we connect to each other – both IRL and in fiction.

Quite early-on (even before Chapter Two!) I felt like I could connect with what Zoe was attempting to process of her life. She was caught between the hopes she had for her marriage, the anguish of losing a husband she felt she had lost long before he went missing and the joys of motherhood with the unexpected renewal of seeking out a bloke who not only understood her but wanted to be in her life in this new chapter of her personal journey. It was almost as if we were walking to the fork in the road for Zoe – of where she needed to decide which way to trust her heart and what was most important for her to do at this intersection on her life’s path to decide for herself which course of action was best for her and Leo.

As an aside, I was happily surprised to see the author enclosed a lovely snowman post-it which exclaimed quite merrily: Merry Christmas! It would have been the best time to read this lovely story, as it’s about finding redemption and forgiveness along with a hearty girth of renewal in the unexpected – however, I was full-on into the virus but I never forgot how this arrived in time for wish me a Happy Christmas! Also, the postcard with all the titles in the series was a sweet touch of joy as it gave me a road map of which stories I need to seek out in order to back-read the whole sequence! I used this postie as the ‘bookmark’ whilst I read the novel, too! Top cheers of gratitude to Ms Randel!

I look forward to reading more of her stories – I love her Contemporary style – the same way I love Ms Browne (Sheryl Browne) as both women are knitting together Realistic Contemporary Rom stories which feel like a brilliant bridge into why I love Women’s Fiction; the stories are full of heart, soul and the depth of how muddy life can become whilst it’s being lived but you have to find the will to dig a bit deeper and run straight into tomorrow even if the dramas of today seek to scuttle your spirits. How fitting then, I read this ahead of my second reading of Ms Browne which will be The Rest of My Life wherein I’ll be sharing my thoughts coming up this Saturday!

The other two authors which immediately come to mind are Brenda S. Anderson (see also Reviews) and Mary McNear (see also Reviews) – both of whom I need to follow-up with their series; of the two, I am finishing my readings of the Coming Home series between the end of January and early February – as I am taking the time to re-read both the prequel and the first novel, leading directly into the third and fourth novel which rounds out the series!

Ooh, my dear sweet stars! I didn’t realise this,… Ms Randel kicks-off the Annie’s Attic Mysteries — I have part of this series on my shelves awaiting to be read as I’m going to be reading them in tandem with my Mum! I had no idea this was the same author – how wicked lovely is this?!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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His One and Only Bride blog tour via Prism Book ToursClick through via the badge to find out what else awaits you! Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

{SOURCES: Cover art of “His One and Only Bride”, “Magnolia Bride”, “Honeysuckle Bride”, “The Bridal Bouquet” and “The Wedding March”; book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Tara Randel, blog tour banner and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 25 January, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Creative Arts, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Firefighters & Paramedics, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Foodie Fiction, Indie Author, JLAS Update Post, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Men's Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Photography, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Suspense

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