The Wedding Dress Diaries is a short prequel to Aimee Carson's Wedding Season series. It's been free at most e-book sites for several months but is also bundled in some versions of Secrets & Saris. As a sales tool, it's effective.
Amber Davis is a wedding shop owner and the best friend of the bride. Parker Robinson is the bride's estranged brother and Amber's childhood crush. When Parker shows up to refuse his sister's wedding invitation, Amber decides to change his mind. While I like the Little Girl Grown Up trope it felt unlikely that Parker wouldn't recognize Amber at all. He's a cop, and therefore fairly observant. I went with it.
Parker is estranged from his family with cause. Amber's knowledge of those causes is difficult for Parker to accept. He's reinvented himself and shaken off the insecurities from his upbringing. In the process he's also become closed and cynical. Parker's not interested in long term relationships, and the bridal shop owning best friend of his little sister has long term all over it. He's right about that, but Amber's been waiting half her life for a chance at Parker Robinson. She's not about to let him get away again. Here I had a bit of an issue.
Parker tells her a one night stand is all she gets. Amber agrees. Minutes later she's leaning on him about HEA and how he needs to open up. I hate when one character is honest about their intentions and the other character completely ignores them in favor of magical thinking. The genre generally rewards this, but it frustrates me.
After an unexpected round of Who's Got The Handcuffs, Parker and Amber head into the sunset. A gender flip could have made this exceptional. Amber's insistence that Parker spend time with his most toxic family member really bothered me. (Emotional abuse is no easier on adult children.) The Wedding Dress Diaries still won me over but I really hope Patrick doesn't buy into Amber's happy family fantasy in the long run.
* This review originally appeared at Love In The Margins.