Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Book CoverVeena’s review of You Say It First (Happily, Inc., Book 1) by Susan Mallery
Contemporary Romance published by HQN Books 22 Aug 17

Ms. Mallery moves her locale from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the town of Fool’s Gold to the Arizona desert and the town of Happily After in the first of what appears to be a new romance series.  She retains all the humor and charm that made the Fool’s Gold series so readable. So if you’ve been a fan of that series, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Happily After, as the name so aptly suggests, is a town made for weddings.  Pallas runs “Weddings in a Box,” catering to the town’s theme. Nick’s first meeting with her sets the tone for the rest of the story, as she hustles him into taking off his jeans to smear fake sun tan over his body so he can wear a toga to take part as an extra in the current wedding she has underway.

While the story has some great moments and a lot of humor, there’s some emotional trauma and darkness as well.  Nick Mitchell is a famous sculptor who’s trying to find his own separate and distinct  artistic voice from his extremely talented and passionate father. On a hiatus for a couple of months while he waits for a commission in Dubai to come through, he joins his artist brothers in the town of Happily After and is content to do odd jobs around Weddings in a Box while he waits. Of course, the beauteous Pallas makes the wait extremely pleasant.

Pallas has her own share of family baggage in the form of her mother’s expectations, which seem to overshadow her life.  Despite her contentious relationship with her mother, she works hard and puts her talent and skills into bringing a bride’s dreams to life, even if they are somewhat constrained by the select themes she offers.  First Nick comes into her life and makes her sit up and take notice of his charm and humor. His encouragement of her dreams and talents, along with a couple who wants her to plan a theme wedding for them based on a game show that they’ve developed, help her break loose of the fetters that seem to have bound her and held her down.

I really like the camaraderie between the girlfriends, who each bring their talent to bear as they come together to help Pallas plan her out-of-the-box dream and the competitive board games night at the boardroom (never quite figured out what it was during the day time).  As much as her love for Nick brings Pallas joy and freedom, he’s the one who’s still tied down to his past and dysfunctional family dynamics.

It does all come together really well, and we’ve met a great crop of future heroes and heroines and I am looking forward to hearing their stories with time.

Grade: B


Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue’s captivating owner, Pallas Saunders.

Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can’t turn the floundering business around, she’ll have no choice but to cave to her domineering mother and work at the family’s bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn’t belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he’s right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

Read an excerpt.