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Book CoverLynneC’s review of The Secret Wedding Dress by Ally Blake
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Kiss 19 Mar 13

Ally Blake is a new-to-me author, but this won’t be the last book of hers that I read. Her voice is fresh and genuinely young without trying to hard or using achingly trendy slang, and her characters behave in a way that feels natural. They’re likeable people who make mistakes, or there wouldn’t be a book. Although it’s in the main Mills and Boon Modern Romance line in the UK, the US has it in the Kiss line, which fits this book better.

Paige goes with her friend Mae to a wedding fire sale, and although she isn’t planning to get married, she finds a dress she can’t resist and buys it. In the elevator on the way to her apartment, she meets a handsome man, newly back from his travels to occupy his penthouse apartment in the same building. Paige is in a job she loves, she owns a nice place, and she has a good life. She’s not yearning for love, although she wouldn’t turn a good bout of rumpy-pumpy down if it came her way. Which it does, in the form of sexy adventurer Gabe. He’s a traveler, hunting deals for his company, and loath to settle down. On the surface it seems like Paige and Gabe are made for a fling, but things happen along the way and they both get reluctantly dragged into love.

Paige knows Gabe’s not stopping. He makes that abundantly clear, which suits her fine. I enjoyed Paige. She’s like a friend, someone I might actually know and like, not a waif, not an entitled bitch, just a person. She has hangups, but she doesn’t let them rule her life. Or not much, anyway. She doesn’t have a sick mother, a bitchy sister, or a favorite charity that will suffer if she doesn’t sleep with Gabe.

Similarly, although Gabe has a serious case of anti-settling down, he’s a likeable bloke and he doesn’t antagonize people for the sake of it. He’s rich, but he has problems, and after a girl seriously betrayed him, to the point of bankruptcy, he prefers to keep them at arms’ length. But he doesn’t treat women like tramps, he doesn’t have a mother with a mysterious secret, and he doesn’t have a wealthy grandfather, determined to leave him his fortune if only he’ll marry Paige. Works for me.

The book is mostly about Paige and Gabe working out their problems and realising that they can’t throw away something as good as what they have together. Their attitude towards sex is refreshingly modern. Gabe doesn’t expect Paige to be a virgin, he doesn’t give a stuff about her previous boyfriends, or how many she’s had and he isn’t a manslut. Neither does he think any less of her after they’ve slept together. Paige has a few misgivings about being the seductress, but their first sex scene is the hottest I’ve read for a long time, and I’m not talking explicit or kinky here. Just man-woman hot.

The language has all the flavor of Australia without being overwhelmed by it. The background is interesting, specific, but not tedious. It’s done right. It makes me want to see Perth.
I had a great time reading this book and I think you will, too.

LynneCs iconGrade: A


A wedding dress…but no bride!

Paige Danforth isn’t interested in setting herself up for an unhappy-ever-after—thanks to her father’s betrayal, the closest she’ll ever get to walking down the aisle is as a bridesmaid. But one bridal sale later, Paige is left clutching her own champagne chiffon wedding dress! Clearly she needs to end her self-imposed dating drought….
Enter ruggedly sexy neighbor Gabe Hamilton. He wants Paige in his bed and nothing more—no promises made, no promises broken. But will this big, bad adventurer stick around when he discovers not only skeletons—but the wedding dress—in her closet?

Read an excerpt.