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Released: June 1st 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Brides of Lowcountry #1
Published by Avon
“This book gives me really mixed feelings, so I definitely struggled a bit with rating it.”~ Under the Covers
An immersive experience into the life of a designer trying to find herself in South Carolina Lowcountry. This story was a great Avon debut for Preslaysa Williams.
Maya has always dreamed of making her mark as a bridal designer, and she’s trying to get there by becoming Head Designer for Laura Whitcomb, Inc. Her father breaks his hip, so Maya has to return to Charleston, South Carolina for a few months to help him out. For the first time in a long time, her career has to take the back seat. In order to earn some money while she’s in Charleston, she ends up finding an opportunity at a local bridal gown boutique, where she meets Derek. He’s just trying to keep Always a Bride open to preserve his mother’s legacy and improve his complicated relationship with his daughter. There are instant sparks between Maya and Derek, but they aren’t sure if they want to give love a chance.
This book gives me really mixed feelings, so I definitely struggled a bit with rating it. On the one hand, I really felt immersed in the day-to-day struggles that Maya was going through, between her job complications and her chronic illness. Can you get contact stressed out? Because I feel like I did while reading about what Maya was dealing with. Despite being able to put myself in her shoes, I did feel like she was making bad choices a lot of the time, which was very frustrating. On the other hand, Derek felt very flat for most of the book. He was basically just upset about losing his wife (completely understandable) and frustrated with his challenges connecting with his daughter Jamila (again, completely understandable). He talked (or thought) a lot about changing his life and wanting to do more, but it seemed like he was very passive. He wasn’t really trying to make things happen; they just happened to him. Feeling the connection between Maya and Derek was difficult, perhaps because of the choices they were making as individuals.
The secondary characters I think are what really makes this story successful. Maya’s dad is there as a great sounding board and counselor, Ginger cares deeply about everyone around her, and the neighborhood and church really seem to be rooting for Derek and Always a Bride to succeed. Jamila is also interesting and you definitely get to experience a lot of her teenage angst. I think seeing more complicated conversations between her and Derek would have really strengthened the book and made me feel more connected to them both. Charleston also featured very prominently in the story, which was amazing. We got to see more about the history of the city than just the major tourist attractions and it felt very authentic. Finally, learning about the Afro-Filipino techniques Maya included in her designs was amazing. I feel like I learned so much and am definitely curious to explore that topic more!
Overall, if you like sweet romances with a strong family dynamic, this story could be for you. There were definitely some tough topics covered (check out the trigger warnings so you’re prepared going in, unlike I was based on the short blurb from the publisher), but it’s still a mostly upbeat story about new beginnings.
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