I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Leigh Duncan
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publish Date: March 10, 2020
This book is perfect for those that like: Forbidden Romances, Small Towns, and Super Close, Tension Filled Baking Scenes
You might not like this book if you aren’t into: Lying, Wedding Planning, or Spoiled Cousins Who Aren’t Sorry Enough
Jenny always dreamed of getting married at Heart’s Landing. But when she finally visits the charming small town, she’s there to make wedding arrangements for someone else: her cousin, who also happens to be her boss and a famous movie star. To keep the event secret and avoid a media circus, Jenny pretends she’s the one getting married.
Nick is intrigued by this bride-to-be who starts visiting his bakery every afternoon for sweet treats and conversation. He has to keep reminding himself that she’s already spoken for.
As Jenny deals with her cousin’s ever-changing demands, she tries to hide her attraction to Nick. Planning this wedding couldn’t be more complicated…and what will happen once the truth comes to light?
Y’all, this book starts with a map. I adore any book that starts with a map because it tells me that A) the author has put A LOT of thought into the scenery and/or town and B) this could be part of a series if there’s a need to layout everything in such detail. Spoiler alert: IT IS! Book Two comes out in June. EEP! Once I saw a map of Heart’s Landing, the town this story is mainly set in, I knew I was in good hands for the next 300 pages.
A Simple Wedding is based on a lie- Jenny pretends to be the one getting married in order to set up her mega-famous cousin’s wedding undetected. Normally, I’m not a fan of “lying” storylines, they make me way too nervous, but this one made sense (if a tiny bit stretched at times). Without the lies though, the “will they” or “won’t they” moments between Jenny and the town baker, Nick, who takes her under his wing, wouldn’t have been as delicious and all the more heartbreaking when everything finally comes out. I’m a sucker for an angsty revelation scene and this book delivered that in just the right amount.
This story could have gotten really bogged down in all the wedding planning but instead, we were treated to much more than that. Sure, Jenny and Nick spend a good portion of the book making wedding plans, but they felt more like cute faux dates, with long looks and tortured inner monologues from two POVs sprinkled throughout. The setting itself also helped lighten the wedding plan load, so-to-speak. Heart’s Landing reminded me of Stars Hollow, a place where everyone knows each other and they all look out for one another. We get to meet so many of the town’s residents/shop owners and I’m excited to meet them again in future books. Side note: When they all show up at Nick’s to have their Come to Jesus moment about Jenny, I died laughing.
What set this book apart for me though, was the fact that there was a villain. I LOVE a good villain, even when they aren’t a rival for the hero’s affections. This story’s villain was Kay, Jenny’s famous cousin, who was as self-absorbed and demanding as they come. She kept putting Jenny in some truly awkward and painful positions throughout the book. I LOVED IT even though I HATED HER FOR IT. And the twist from Kay at the end wasn’t all that surprising but I still was like SHUTUP ARE YOU SERIOUS CLARK?? I was legit MAD, lol.
Overall, this was a delightful read and a great start to what I hope is going to be a multi-book series. I can see so many possibilities for Heart’s Landing and I’m excited to see how the next one, A Cottage Wedding, plays out.